When do warning and intimidation cross the line into extortion?

For example, what are the rules regarding warning people with punishments (Police warn a potential criminal that if he doesn’t stop, they will use force to pacify them)

…or a parent intimidating a child with physical punishment if the kid misbehaves.

Neither of those are anywhere close to extortion.

doesn’t extortion have to do with money or property?

Extortion is getting money out of people by making threats; however, one point of extortion is that those making the threat have no authority to do so.

So if a parent tells his own child that if she doesn’t stop whining about wanting him to buy her candy at the store she will get no dessert, that is not extortion, because the father has authority over the child. The father’s acts are bound by morality–his authority is not unlimited, but when he crosses the line it is not called extortion but abuse.

In the same way, the police do similar things–pay this ticket or loose your license, come out of the car with your hands up or we’ll arrest you–but they too have the authority to do that.

Now, if some guys with bad accents come into your shop and let you know it will be busted up if you don’t pay them “protection,” that’s extortion.

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