4.18.1951 Interference with Commerce by Robbery or Extortion (Hobbs Act),

18 U.S.C. § 1951 See Statute

[Defendant] is accused of obstructing, delaying and affecting commerce by committing [robbery; extortion]. It is against federal law to obstruct, delay or affect commerce by committing [robbery; extortion]. For you to find [defendant] guilty of this crime, you must be convinced that the government has proven each of the following things beyond a reasonable doubt:

First, that [defendant] knowingly and willfully obtained property from [person or corporation robbed/extorted];

Second, that [defendant] did so by means of [robbery; extortion];

Third, that [defendant] knew that [person or corporation robbed/extorted or its employees] parted with the property because of the [robbery; extortion]; and

Fourth, that the [robbery; extortion] affected commerce.

It is not necessary for you to find that [defendant] knew or intended that [his/her] actions would affect commerce. It is only necessary that the natural consequences of the acts committed by [defendant] as charged in the indictment would affect commerce in any way or degree. The term “commerce” means commerce between any point in a state and any point outside the state.

“Robbery” means the unlawful taking or obtaining of personal property from the person or in the presence of another, against his or her will, by means of actual or threatened force, or violence, or fear of injury to his or her person or property, or property in his or her custody or possession, or of anyone in his or her company at the time.

“Extortion” means the obtaining of property from another with his or her consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence or fear, or under color of official right.


(1) In a color-of-official-right extortion case, the government must prove that the payee accepted the money knowing it was designed to influence his or her actions, but does not have to prove an affirmative act of inducement by the official. Evans v. United States, 504 U.S. 255, 268 (1992) (“[F]ulfillment of the quid pro quo is not an element of the offense.”). In the case of political or campaign contributions to elected public officials, however, the government must prove that “the payments are made in return for an explicit promise or understanding by the official to perform or not to perform an official act.” McCormick v. United States, 500 U.S. 257, 273 (1991).

(2) The “fear” element of extortion can include fear of economic loss. United States v. Sturm, 870 F.2d 769, 771-72 (1st Cir. 1989) (addressing creditor’s fear of non-repayment). For an instruction on that issue, see United States v. Capo, 817 F.2d 947, 951 (2d Cir. 1987). If the extortion is economic fear, the term “wrongful” must be defined to require that the government prove that the defendant did not have a claim of right to the property, Sturm, 870 F.2d at 772-73, and that the defendant knew that he or she was not legally entitled to the property obtained. Id. at 774-75; see also United States v. Tormos-Vega, 959 F.2d 1103, 1109-10 (1st Cir. 1992).

(3) Section 1951 has its own conspiracy provision and does not require an overt act. Tormos-Vega, 959 F.2d at 1115.

(4) For elaboration on what it means to affect commerce, see Tormos-Vega, 959 F.2d at 1112-13. The definition of “commerce” should be modified according to the facts of the case within the range provided by 18 U.S.C. § 1951(b)(3). United States v. McKenna, 889 F.2d 1168, 1171 (1st Cir. 1989), states:

The district court must determine if, as a matter of law, interstate commerce could be affected. If the court determines it could be, the question is turned over to the jury to determine if, as a matter of fact, interstate commerce was affected as the district court charged it could have been.

It is error to instruct the jury that as a matter of law a business is engaged in interstate commerce. United States v. Balsam, 203 F.3d 72, 89 (1st Cir. 2000).