Can a text message taken out of context be considered extortion?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can a text message taken out of context be considered extortion?

I recently contracted work for a customer, I had a worker there that messed up a bunch of work and was a bad individual in general, that had made lewd comments regarding the wife of the customer. This person had quit the job eventually and we discovered the work was incomplete and faulty. I had to pay to have it fixed. The owners could not be made happy. So eventually would not agree to a change order agreement for additional work they requested the electrician worker complete. I was asked not to return. They left a bad review online. I found out they had rehired this unlicensed

guy back to their property. I was emotional and sent the husband a text explaining the guy was talking about his wife and he wasn’t licensed for anything and that I would report it if he didn’t remove the bad review. They gave a bad review on the faulty work provided by an unlicensed guy and now had him working there and driving their vehicle without a driver’s license. I am reporting the unlicensed conduct and was merely trying to warn the husband about this guys demeanor. Not that I was going to report about whatever thing there was going on with the wife. I admit my text

wasn’t the most professional, but I also have a family to feed and bills to pay. This job and the collusion between this customer and unlicensed worker. Has practically bankrupt my company and ruined my credit. I’m just dumbfounded. I was contacted by the sheriff today regarding the matter so I’m not sure where I stand.

Asked on March 24, 2019 under Criminal Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It wasn't taken "out of context": you threatned to report them--to take steps that could harm their interests and cost them money--if they did not do what you wanted. That is extortion. Granted, it is a minor, not egregious case, and I doubt the authorities will act on it--hence the sheriff speaking with you and not bringing you a summons (i.e. you were not charged)--but it is extortion. Do not do it again.

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