Extortion & Blackmail – Lawyers in NSW
Our Criminal Law Team can assist you with extortion and blackmail matters, we have the experience and expertise necessary to ensure you receive the best possible outcome.
We’ve been defending the people of Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Central Coast and the Hunter region since 1969 and have helped our clients to achieve the best possible outcomes in all Criminal Law matters.
We are used to dealing with the Police and know all the ‘ins and outs’ of the Courts and Justice system.
If you have been charged with extortion and/or blackmail, contact our Criminal Law Team today to book a teleconference or appointment. We’ll fight vigorously to protect your freedom and rights.
What is an ‘extortion’ offence and what are the penalties?
A person who makes any unwarranted demand with menaces:
(a) with the intention of obtaining a gain or of causing a loss; or
(b) with the intention of influencing the exercise of a public duty, is guilty of an offence of extortion.
The maximum penalty imprisonment for 10 years.
A person is guilty of a more serious offence of extortion if the person commits the extortion by accusing a person committed a serious indictable offence.
The maximum penalty in these circumstances is imprisonment for 14 years.
What is a ‘demand with menaces’ offence and what are the penalties?
A demand with menaces is “unwarranted” unless the person believes that he or she has reasonable grounds for making the demand and reasonably believes that the use of the menaces is a proper means of reinforcing the demand.
(a) an express or implied threat of any action detrimental or unpleasant to another person; and
(b) a general threat of detrimental or unpleasant action that is implied because the person making the unwarranted demand holds a public office.
A threat against an individual does not constitute a menace unless:
(a) the threat would cause an individual of normal stability and courage to act unwillingly in response to the threat; or
(b) the threat would cause the particular individual to act unwillingly in response to the threat and the person who makes the threat is aware of the vulnerability of the particular individual to the threat.
Is it necessary for a benefit to have been obtained?
A person can still be convicted of extortion or blackmail even if the benefit (or demand) was never actually obtained.
For example, if you threatened another person and they ignored your threats, you could still be convicted with blackmail.
The issue is whether there was an intention to obtain gain or cause a loss. The mere fact that no loss or gain occurred does not result in charges being unsuccessful.
Also, it is important to understand that the benefit or demand doesn’t necessarily mean something that is tangible (that is passed from one person to another person).
What must the Crown prove?
In an extortion/blackmail matter, the Crown must prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that an individual:
- Made an unwarranted demand with menaces; and
- In doing so intended to:
- (a) Obtain a gain
- (b) Cause a loss or
- (c) Influence the exercise of a public duty
Can extortion or blackmail occur without words ever being spoken or written?
Yes. Extortion or blackmail can occur through actions, such as body language. It can be an express or implied treat. For example, a threat could be as simple as winking or a head nod at an inappropriate time. When this is the case, the Crown needs to prove that the accused’s actions amounted to a threat and thus the victim was correct in inferring that a threat was made.
How do you get a reduced penalty if charged with extortion or blackmail?
There are many factors that a Court will consider when sentencing an individual charged with extortion or blackmail. Matters that may reduce a sentence include, but are not limited to:
- If it is your first criminal offence
- You present good character references
- You demonstrate a need for rehabilitation
- You show actual remorse
- You prove that you will suffer extra curial punishment (i.e. punishment which you experience outside the Court’s sentence)
What is the maximum penalty for extortion or blackmail?
Extortion and blackmail are very serious crimes. In NSW, extortion and blackmail carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and this can increase to 14 years if the offence is aggravated.
What are the possible defences to a charge of extortion or blackmail?
- You deny that you extorted or blackmailed anyone
- You deny that your actions constituted menaces any threat and was not “detrimental or unpleasant’
- You deny that there was any intention of gaining a benefit or causing another person loss
- You claim that you were forced to extort or blackmail someone because you were under duress by another party
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