New Jersey Criminal Coercion Law
We represent clients charged with N.J.S.A. 2C:13-5; New Jersey criminal coercion complaints and indictments filed in Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Somerset County, Essex County, Union County, and Hudson County.
The offense of criminal coercion prohibits seven specified categories of threats made with a purpose of unlawfully restricting another person's freedom of action to engage or refrain from engaging in conduct.
There is no offense unless defendant has a purpose to coerce another to engage or refrain from engaging in conduct.
The purpose must be unlawful which means that the defendant is seeking to coerce conduct or the refraining from engaging in conduct which defendant has no legal right to require.
It is the threat made with the purpose of restricting another person's freedom which is prohibited.
The seven categories of prohibited threats under this statute are as follows:
The threat to inflict bodily injury on anyone or commit any other offense;
threat to accuse anyone of an offense;
threat to expose any secret which would tend to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule or to impair credit or business repute;
to take or withhold action as an official or cause an official to take or withhold action;
threaten to bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action except that such a threat shall not be deemed coercive when the restriction compelled is demanded in the course of negotiation for the benefit of the group in whose interest the defendant acts;
threat to testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another person's legal claim or defense;
threaten or perform any other act which would not in itself substantially benefit the defendant but which is calculated to harm another person with respect to his health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships.
Except for the threats in the categories of threat to inflict bodily injury on anyone or commit any other offense and threat to bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action, there is an affirmative defense that the defendant acted for a benign - harmless - purpose.
However, two requirements must be met in order to mount such a defense.
First, defendant believed the accusation or secret to be true or the proposed official action to be justified.
Second, defendant's purpose must be limited to compelling the victim to behave in a way reasonably related to the circumstances which were the subject of the accusation, exposure or proposed official action.
The state must prove three material elements to obtain a conviction.
First, defendant made a threat encompassed by one of the seven categories.
Second, defendant's purpose was to restrict another person's freedom of action to engage or refrain from engaging in conduct.
Third, defendant's purpose was unlawful.
Criminal coercion is a crime of the fourth degree unless the threat is to commit a crime more serious than one of the fourth degree, or if the defendant has a criminal purpose, then it is a crime of the third degree.
If you have any questions for a NJ criminal defense lawyer about a New Jersey Criminal coercion charge, please do not hesitate to contact us.