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People v. Beggs

Supreme Court of California
172 P. 152 (1918)


Joseph Da Rosa was arrested for stealing items from his employer, Joseph Steining. Da Rosa was booked at the police station for petit larceny but had not yet been formally charged. Da Rosa admitted that he had stolen the items, which were valued at less than $50, and offered to repay the value of the items. Steining had hired an attorney, Beggs (defendant), to represent him in the matter. In the course of interviewing Da Rosa, Beggs discovered that Da Rosa had approximately $2500 deposited in two banks. Beggs told Da Rosa that his crime and situation were very serious and that he would be sent to prison for seven to ten years if he did not immediately give Beggs $2000, which Beggs stated he would use to settle the claims with Steining. Based on his fear of these threats, Da Rosa went with Beggs to his banks. He withdrew and gave $2000 to Beggs, who later gave $900 of the money to Steining. Beggs was charged and convicted of extortion. Beggs appealed, alleging that threatening to prosecute a debtor for a crime from which the debt allegedly arose is not extortion.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Shaw, J.)

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