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Massachusetts Extortion and Criminal Harassment Laws

Extortion is generally defined as using threats against someone in order to gain some kind of benefit from that person. A crime that's closely related to extortion is bribery. These two crimes can be distinguished by how a person induces the other for their own benefit. More specifically, extortion uses negative acts in order to achieve compliance, while bribery uses a reward for compliance. Massachusetts not only has a statute addressing extortion, but also has a statute that addresses criminal harassment.

Massachusetts Extortion and Criminal Harassment Laws: The Basics

Usually when you have a question about the law, you'd like a quick and easy answer. Looking at the actual statute for an answer is important while conducting legal research, but laws are usually written in legal jargon, which can take time to understand. For this reason, FindLaw has provided you with a plain English overview of the law in the chart below which provides both links to relevant statutes as well a brief overview of Massachusetts extortion and criminal harassment laws.


Massachusetts General Laws, Part IV, Title I, Chapter 265:


The following acts, when done with the intent to either extort money or force someone to do something against their will, are considered extortion:

  • threaten to accuse someone of a crime;
  • threaten to injure a person or their property; or
  • use or threaten to use official power or authority (if a police officer or employee of a licensing authority)

Extortion is punishable by:

  • up to 15 years in state prison;
  • up to two and a half years in a house of correction; or
  • a combination of imprisonment and a fine.
Criminal Harassment

It's criminal harassment to willfully and maliciously engage in conduct towards someone, which would lead that person to be seriously alarmed and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress.

Criminal Harassment is punishable by*:

  • up to two and half years in a house of correction; and/or
  • a fine of up to $1,000.

*A subsequent conviction of this statute or if the person was previously convicted of Section 43 is punishable by up to 10 years in state prison or up to two and half years in a house of correction.

Related Statute(s)

Massachusetts General Laws, Part IV, Title I, Chapter 265 Section 43 (Stalking)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Massachusetts Extortion and Criminal Harassment Laws: Related Resources

Please click on the links below for additional information and resources related to this topic.

Arrested for Extortion or Criminal Harassment in Massachusetts? Contact a Lawyer

Violating Massachusetts extortion and criminal harassment laws will land you in jail or even prison, and even if you don't end up imprisoned, a conviction can still result in a criminal record. If you've been charged with extortion, criminal harassment, or any other crime in Massachusetts, it's in your best interest to contact a local criminal defense attorney who can inform you of your options based on the facts of your particular case.

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