What is a Blackmail Offence?
The statutory offence of blackmail is committed where one person, being the offender, threatens the victim with physical harm, exposure or other kinds of threats unless a demand is met which will benefit the offender at the victim’s expense. Section 21 of Theft Act 1968 criminalises blackmail. It is a more serious offence than it is regarded to be by many people. The punishment for blackmail upon conviction can be as high as 14 years in prison. However for the prosecution to establish a blackmail charge against the offender, the elements of the crime must be present. First and foremost, the menace or threats being issued by the offender must be accompanied with a demand, which the law requires to be unwarranted.
Furthermore, the offender must stand to gain or to benefit another and to occasion loss to the victim as a result of the blackmail. Menace in the context of blackmail offence extends beyond physical violence. It involves a significantly high level of coercion to warrant the criminal liability of blackmail. Sometimes the threat issued in the course of committing the offence of blackmail may relate to issues which actually took place. For instance, a threat to expose details of a man’s extramarital affair to his wife does not constitute a crime. The offence of blackmail is committed when a demand is associated to such a threat from which the offender stands to gain or to benefit another.
Sentencing for Blackmail
The seriousness of the offence is brought home by the fact that it is an indictable only offence which attracts up to 14 years imprisonment. The threat or menace and demand elements of the offence of blackmail can take place in person, over the telephone, through post and even on the internet. In the case of the latter, the offence will be regarded as internet blackmail, social blackmail or cyber blackmail. Regardless of the format the offence takes, blackmail is essentially the extortion of money from a victim by issuing the victim with threats or menace. Although they are separate offences, blackmail and extortion are quite similar in that threats are issued in both offences for the purpose of deriving a gain from the victim. Regardless of the nature of the blackmail allegations you are facing, speak to one of our vastly experienced London criminal solicitors today about your case.