Violation of The Hobbs Act or Bank Robbery

In 1946, Congress enacted the Hobbs Act which further criminalized certain forms of robbery and extortion. It was originally intended to fight racketeering in labor disputes, and is still frequently used in cases of corruption surrounding labor unions. Bank robberies are typically charged under this statute.

Violation of The Hobbs Act

What is the sentence for violation of the Hobbs Act?

This law imposes fines and a maximum sentence of twenty years for extortion that inhibits interstate commerce by depleting an enterprise’s assets that would normally be used for the purchase of goods. Generally, an individual’s assets are not going to affect interstate commerce, and as such, the Hobbs Act does not apply to an extorted individual. Blackmail and certain forms of bribery can also fall under the category of extortion in the application of this law.

It is important to understand that the potential sentence for an act of extortion that is not a violation of the Hobbs Act, might be a fraction of the sentence compared to an act of extortion that meets the Hobbs Act criteria.

What does federal law say about The Hobbs Acts and inference with commerce by threats or violence?

18 U.S.C. § 1951 reads:

(a) Whoever in any way or degree obstructs, delays, or affects commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in commerce, by robbery or extortion or attempts or conspires so to do, or commits or threatens physical violence to any person or property in furtherance of a plan or purpose to do anything in violation of this section shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

(b) As used in this section—

(1) The term “robbery” means the unlawful taking or obtaining of personal property from the person or in the presence of another, against his will, by means of actual or threatened force, or violence, or fear of injury, immediate or future, to his person or property, or property in his custody or possession, or the person or property of a relative or member of his family or of anyone in his company at the time of the taking or obtaining.

(2) The term “extortion” means the obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.

(3) The term “commerce” means commerce within the District of Columbia, or any Territory or Possession of the United States; all commerce between any point in a State, Territory, Possession, or the District of Columbia and any point outside thereof; all commerce between points within the same State through any place outside such State; and all other commerce over which the United States has jurisdiction.

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