The New International Encyclopædia/Extortion

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Edition of 1905.  See also Extortion on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

EXTORTION (ML. extortio, Lat. extorsio, from extorquere, to extort, from ex, out + torquere, to twist), in its widest sense, any form of taking or obtaining anything from another by means of illegal compulsion or oppressive exaction. As a technical term of the common law it has been judicially defined as the “crime committed by an officer of the law, who under color of his office unlawfully and corruptly takes any money or thing of value that is not due to him, or more than is due, or before it is due.” It is by the common law a misdemeanor punishable by fine and imprisonment, and subjecting the offender to removal from office. In most of the United States the term has received statutory definition. For example, in New York it is defined as “the obtaining of property from another. with his consent, induced by a wrongful use of force or fear, or under cover of official right.” (New York Penal Code, § 552.) See Encyclopædia of Pleading and Practice, viii. (Northport, 1897).