FELONY EXTORTION BY LETTER - ELEMENTS
No person may be convicted of felony extortion by letter unless the State has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime. These elements are:
Second, a letter/writing;
Third, with intent to obtain;
Fourth, property/(a signature to a writing transferring property)/(a signature to a writing creating a debt/demand/charge/[right of action]);
Fifth, of another;
Sixth, with the consent of the other person;
Seventh, to be induced by use of threat(s).
Statutory Authority: 21 O.S. 1991, § 1486.
Notes on Use
See OUJI-CR 5-33 for a definition of threat.
Section 1486 makes it a crime to send a letter or other written communication to another with intent to extort. Hence, the crime created by section 1486 contains all the elements of the crime of extortion, except that the defendant need not obtain the property. The first and second elements, sending a letter or written communication, substitute for obtaining property. Although the statutory language of section 1486 is "with intent to extort," the Commission has spelled out the specific elements of extortion in the instruction to define clearly the word "extort."
The first element, "sending," is satisfied by the hand delivery of the letter or written communication. The use of postal service is not necessary. Wehr v. State, 79 Okl. Cr. 426, 155 P.2d 731 (1945). Nor is it necessary that the letter or written communication be received.
The second element requires that a letter or written communication be used to convey the threat. Verbal threats which do not result in the transfer of property are not sufficient to constitute the crime of section 1486, although unsuccessful verbal threats are sufficient to constitute the crime of attempted extortion created by section 1483. Compare Fauble v. State, 53 Okl. Cr. 153, 11 P.2d 202 (1932) (section 1486), with Wilson v. State, 306 P.2d 717 (Okl. Cr. 1957) (section 1487 (repealed 1991)), and Nelms v. State, 31 Okl. Cr. 185, 237 P. 870 (1925) (section 1487 (repealed 1991)).
The gravamen of the crime of section 1486 is the intent to extort as reflected in the third through seventh elements. If a person merely sends a threatening letter to another, but does not have the intent to extort, the appropriate charge is under 21 O.S. 1991, § 1304, mailing threatening or intimidating letters, not under section 1486. Fauble, supra.
The third through seventh elements are the elements of extortion. There is only one substantive difference between the extortion elements of felony extortion by letter and the elements of felony and misdemeanor extortion. The seventh element indicates that the means used by the extortionist to induce consent is limited to the use of threats. This is in accordance with the statutory language of section 1486. Thus, a public officer who sends a letter with the intent to obtain property from another under color of official right cannot be prosecuted under section 1486, but would probably be subject to prosecution for attempted extortion under section 1483. Moreover, section 1486 does not mention the use of force because force cannot be exerted through a letter or written communication. Of course, a threat of force is covered by the definition of "threats" under section 1482. (See OUJI-CR 5-33.)