Blackmail and ExtortionMeet the team
DPP Law has over 35 years’ worth of experience in defending individuals who have been accused of blackmail or extortion.
Section 21 of the Theft Act 1968 defines an instance of blackmail as one where: “a person with a view to gain for themselves or another or intending to cause loss to another makes an unwarranted demand with menaces. Dishonesty is not an element of the offence.”
The term “an unwarranted demand with menaces” means that the perpetrator of an offence of this kind makes a groundless demand of their victim by way of intimidation or the threat of influencing something detrimental to happen to them if they do not comply.
A demand will be found to be unwarranted unless the person has clear and provable grounds for making it.
To constitute blackmail, the demand and threats in question must be made with an intent to cause loss to the victim, or a view to gain something specific – for example money or property – on the part of the perpetrator.
In cases of blackmail, any threatened action will not refer to violence or physical damage.
Instead, the victim will usually be threatened with the exposure of sensitive, embarrassing or incriminating information that would be hugely detrimental to the victim’s life if it were to be made public.
What is the Difference Between Extortion and Blackmail?
We’ve already defined blackmail above. While the offence is often grouped together with that of extortion, there are some key differences between the two.
The crime of extortion involves the perpetrator making threats of physical harm or destruction of property in order to force their victim to adhere to their demands or to fulfil their requirements. Blackmail, on the other hand, does not include threats of violence or damage against a victim.
Extortion is also considered to be different from robbery because, in cases of the former, the victim consents to the surrender of money or property as a result of the perpetrator’s menaces, and this gain and loss is not technically achieved “against their will” as it is in the robbery.
What Offences Fall Under Blackmail and Extortion?
Both the terms “blackmail” and “extortion” describe an act of making “an unwarranted demand with menaces”.
The type of demands made in a case of blackmail or extortion – and the threats involved – do not need to involve anything illegal for an interaction to fall into either category.
What’s more, it doesn’t matter whether or not the information that the perpetrator threatens to expose about the victim is true when seeking to define an offence as blackmail or extortion.
A “protection racket”, therefore, is just one of the offences associated with blackmail and extortion.
Another crime that falls under this umbrella is that of “extortion by public officials” or “public officers”. This involves the misuse of power for financial gain or similar benefit on the part of persons in official positions.
Defence Against Blackmail Accusations
The most effective method of defending against accusations of blackmail is usually to argue that the person making the demand in question had a strong reason to believe that the demand was warranted.
A legal specialist acting in the defence of the alleged perpetrator may also argue that their client believed that any threatened action constituted a proper means of reinforcing their demand.
The experts at DPP Law can help to put these arguments to a court and can help clients to find and present evidence to support them.
Defence Against Extortion Accusations
It is possible to defend against accusations of extortion by arguing and providing evidence to the effect that:
- There was never any intent to threaten harm or damage in order to make a gain to the detriment of the alleged victim
- The evidence provided is not sufficient to prove the existence of any real threat
- The alleged victim was not threatened, or they only perceived any threat mistakenly
- No alleged victim had any reason to believe that the “threat” was genuine
What to Do if You’ve Been Charged With Blackmail or Extortion
If you have been accused of a blackmail offence, or if you are concerned that legal action may be taken against you in relation to an alleged transgression of this kind, it is vital that you seek the services of highly experienced blackmail solicitors as soon as you can.
DPP Law has an emergency arrest line for this purpose.
Legal assistance is extremely valuable in these cases, particularly as the current maximum sentence for a person found guilty of blackmail is up to 14 years imprisonment.
Alongside this, our solicitors advise individuals on:
- Criminal Defence
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Contact DPP Law today for guidance and advice on all matters relating to the crime of blackmail and/or extortion.
Blackmail and Extortion: Frequently Asked Questions
Read on to find answers to commonly asked questions.
What is blackmail?
This term refers to the making of unwarranted demands of another individual along with threats that if they do not comply, the blackmailer will undertake an act against the victim’s wishes. In England and Wales, blackmail is any act where property or money is coerced from a person through unwarranted demand or menaces — including physical threats.
Under Scots Law, blackmail is where one party demands property, money, or some advantage under threat of harm. Importantly, under Scots Law, the legitimacy of the item is not the cause of illegality. For example, a party can owe a blackmailer money legitimately; as long as there is a threat, it is still extortion.
Is Blackmail Illegal?
Yes. Blackmail is a very serious crime under UK law, contrary to Section 21 of the Theft Act 1968.
What is the difference between blackmail and extortion?
Extortion and blackmail describe two different acts, although extortion sentencing guidelines are the same as those for blackmail. The distinction lies in the fact that extortion involves threats of physical violence or destruction against a victim or another individual while blackmail does not.
What is the Most Common Form of Extortion?
Robbery is an extremely common form of extortion. In this form situation, party 1 (the robber) threatens party 2 (the victim) with violence if they do not hand over money.
What Qualifies as Blackmail?
In order for a person to be criminal guilty of blackmail, they must have:
- Made a demand;
- With menaces;
- That the demand was unwarranted; or
- That the defendant has a view to make a gain for himself or another or have intent to cause a loss to another.
What is the punishment for extortion and blackmail?
Extortion sentencing guidelines list the maximum sentence for this offence as 14 years in prison, and the most severe blackmail sentence is the same. Due to the considerable severity of these penalties, seeking out blackmail and extortion solicitors as soon as you are accused is vital.
DPP Law’s experienced solicitors can help
The criminal defence solicitors at DPP Law have more than 30 years’ worth of experience in providing blackmail and extortion legal advice.
Contact us today so we can decide the next course of action and take the steps to absolve any allegations.
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