In the ACT, blackmail is an offence and carries a maximum penalty of 1,400 penalty units and/or 14 years imprisonment.
What Is Blackmail?
The offence of Blackmail is contained in Section 342 of the Criminal Code Act 2002, which states that it is an offence to make an unwarranted demand with menace, with the intention of obtaining a gain, causing a loss or influencing the exercise of a public duty.
To commit blackmail, a person does not need to make a demand for money or property. It is enough that a demand is made accompanied by a threat. For example:
- threatening to slash someone’s car tyres if they do not give you a lift;
- threatening to post unwanted pictures on the internet if someone does not go out with you;
Section 341 of the Code provides that a person makes an unwarranted demand with a menace of someone else only if the person:
- Makes a demand with a menace of the other person; and
- Does not believe that he or she has reasonable grounds for making the demand; and
- Does not reasonably believe that the use of the menace is a proper means of reinforcing the demand.
It does not matter whether the menace relates to action to be taken by the person making the demand.
What Actions Might Constitute Blackmail?
- Taking a person hostage and demanding a ransom;
- Threatening to damage property;
- Threatening to harm a person if they don’t do a certain thing.
What The Police Must Prove
- That the accused made an unwarranted demand with menace;
- That they did so with the intention to obtain a gain, cause a loss or influence the exercise of a public duty.
Possible Defences To Blackmail
- That what you did was not detrimental or unpleasant;
- That you did not intend to cause a gain, loss or undue influence;
- That you acted under duress.
Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?
When a matter is dealt with summarily (in the Magistrates Court) the maximum penalty is $15,000, five years imprisonment or both. When the matter is dealt with on indictment (in the Supreme Court) the maximum penalty could be imposed.
The maximum penalty for blackmail is 1,400 penalty units, and/or 14 years imprisonment. One penalty unit in ACT currently equates to $160.00 for an individual or $810.00 for a corporation.
However the court can impose any of the following penalties:
- Prison Sentence
- Intensive Corrections Order (ICO)
- Suspended Sentence
- Community Service Order (CSO)
- Good Behaviour Bond
If you require legal advice about blackmail or in any other legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.
WHERE TO NEXT?
If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.