In Arizona, regular defamation — making a false statement of fact about a person or business — is a civil tort, meaning the punishment is paying a fine. Defamation becomes criminal offense — with a potential jail sentence — when a person threatens libel or slander in exchange for payment or goods.
Extortion By Defamatory Libel On The Arizona Law Books
Section 13-1804 of the Arizona Revised Statutes says that a person commits extortion by defamation libel by:
- Accusing someone of a crime or threatening to bring criminal charges;
- Exposing a secret or an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject anyone to hatred, contempt or ridicule or to impair the person’s credit or business; or
- Taking or withholding action as a public servant or cause a public servant to take or withhold action.
Truthfully accusing someone of a crime, publishing truthful words and taking a lawful action as a public servant are all completely legal — it’s the threat of doing so with the expectation of receiving property or services that makes a completely lawful act into a criminal one.
DEFENSES TO EXTORTION By Defamatory Libel
The Arizona Revises Statutes provides that extortion by defamation libel does not apply to:
- Restitution or indemnification for harm done under circumstances to which the accusation, exposure, lawsuit or other official act relates; or
- Compensation for property or services that were lawfully obtained.
Extortion by Defamation Libel Defense Argument Example
Adam steals Bob’s car. Bob threatens to report Adam to the police if the car is not returned to Bob. Although threatening to report someone for a crime in exchange for property (the car) would normally be extortion, Bob would not be found guilty of extortion by defamatory libel, in this instance, because the property being claimed is “restitution for harm done under circumstances to which the accusation” of criminal activity would relate.
Contact A Defamation Lawyer
If you’re dealing with an extortion by defamatory libel issue — and you’re ready to consult an attorney — get in touch with Aaron Kelly. A top-rated defamation lawyer, Aaron has successfully handled many slander and libel cases. Get in touch today to turn things around for the better.