Extortion isn't just organized crime figures emerging from the shadows to threaten local businesspeople. While this type of extortion definitely exists, it can also take place in other ways. In fact, it's possible to act in a manner that could lead you to face an extortion charge even if you weren't demanding money from someone. Extortion can encompass a variety of different behaviors, but always involves one party threatening another party with some type of unwanted outcome unless the latter party does something specific. This scenario can even unfold in the context of youth sports. Here's how.
The parents of young athletes often get frustrated when their child doesn't get what they deem to be the right amount of playing time, and often blame the coach for holding a grudge against the child. A parent who is unhappy at the coach could look for a way to get his or her child more playing time, but it could actually approach extortion. For example, if you run a local company and the coach works for you, you might suggest that giving your child more playing time would be beneficial for the coach's career — and that continuing to keep your child on the bench could be harmful to the coach's career.
When a young athlete has to try out for an elite team, his or her parents will often be anxious about the outcome. An overzealous parent may attempt to sway the coach's judgment of the child in a manner that the law views as extortion. For example, if the parent knows that the coach has recently had a DUI arrest, the parent may suggest to the coach that he or she will tell the other parents about the arrest if the child doesn't make the team. This type of threat is directed at the coach's reputation, but also his or her job because it's reasonable to believe that the coach may have to step down due to an outcry from other parents.
If a young athlete appears to have the skills to succeed at the next level — this could be in college, for example — the parent might be so eager to help make that happen that he or she commits an act of extortion. For example, the parent might suggest that if the coach doesn't write a letter of recommendation for the child to the school of the family's choice, something unfortunate may happen. This could be a threat of spreading a lie — perhaps the parent might suggest that he or she will spread the word around town that the coach has abused a player unless the coach writes this letter. If your actions have led to an extortion charge, you should consider speaking to a criminal law attorney.