Accusing Or Threatening to Accuse Someone of Crime to Extort Money


In NSW it is an offence to accuse someone of committing a crime or threaten to accuse someone of committing a crime in order to extort money from them or have them charged by police.

A person can be charged with this offence if they accuse someone of committing a serious indictable offence unless that person pays them money or provides them with some benefit. They can also be charged if they merely threaten accuse someone of committing a serious indictable offence unless that person pays them money or provides them with some benefit.

A serious indictable offence is any criminal offence with a maximum penalty of 5 or more years imprisonment.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 14 years imprisonment.

The Offence of Accusing or Threatening to Accuse Someone of a Crime to Extort Money:

The offence of Accusing or Threatening to Accuse Someone of a Crime to Extort Money is contained in section 249K of the Crimes Act 1900 and states:

  • (1) 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.

Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 10 years.

  • (2) A person is guilty of an offence against this subsection if the person commits an offence against subsection (1) by an accusation, or a threatened accusation, that a person has committed a serious indictable offence.

Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 14 years.

What Actions Might Constitute the Offence of Accusing or Threatening to Accuse Someone of a Crime to Extort Money?

Examples include:

  • Telling your mate who just won lotto that you will say he sexually assaulted your wife unless he gives you $20,000;
  • Going to a police station and accusing your neighbour of tearing out and damaging your fence because they refuse to pay for a new fence to be installed;
  • Making an anonymous call to police to have one of your part time colleagues at a child care centre charged with abusing children so that you will get to take over her shifts; or
  • Telling your partner from whom you are separated that you will make a false complaint with police that she is dealing drugs unless she lets you keep the house and agrees to take the kids full time.

What the Police Must Prove:

To convict you of this offence police must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:

  • That you made a demand for money, some sort of benefit or some sort of financial advantage from a person;
  • That you either made an accusation or threatened to make an accusation;
  • That the accusation or threatened accusation was that the person had committed a serious indictable offence;
  • That you intended to either gain some sort of financial or other advantage, intended to cause them loss or intended to cause action to be taken against them, such as being charged by police.

Possible Defences for Accusing or Threatening to Accuse Someone of a Crime to Extort Money:

The common ways to defend this charge are:

  • To maintain your innocence if you did not commit the act;
  • To argue that you did not make a demand;
  • To argue that the demand was not one where you would obtain a benefit or some other gain;
  • To argue that you did not make an accusation or threaten to make an accusation;
  • To argue that the accusation or threatened accusation was not one that involved the person having committed a strictly indictable offence;
  • To argue that you didn’t intend to either gain some sort of financial or other advantage, intend to cause them loss or intend to cause action to be taken against them, such as being charged by police or
  • To raise necessity or duress as the reason for your conduct.

Which Court will Hear Your Matter?

The charge is a table one offence which means that the matter will be finalised in the Local Court unless the Department of Public Prosecutions or the person who has been charged elects to have the matter finalised in the District Court.

If the matter is finalised in the Local Court the court can only impose a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.

Types of Penalties:

Jail: This is the most serious penalty and involves full time detention in a correctional facility. Read more.

Home Detention: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 as a standalone order but may be imposed as a condition of an Intensive Corrections Order (ICO). Home detention is an alternative to full-time imprisonment. In effect the gaol sentence is served at your address rather than in a gaol. If you receive a sentence of home detention you will be strictly supervised and subject to electronic monitoring. Read more.

Intensive Corrections Order (ICO): This option has replaced periodic detention. The court can order you to comply with a number of conditions, such as attending counselling or treatment, not consuming alcohol, complying with a curfew and performing community service. Read more.

Suspended Sentence: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018. This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed the jail sentence will not come into effect. A suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years. Read more.

Community Service Order (CSO): As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. In order to be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service as suitable to undertake the order. Read more.

Good Behaviour Bond: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. The court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond. The maximum duration of a good behaviour bond is five years. Read more.

Community Corrections Orders (CCO): A CCO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the Community Corrections Orders (CCO). Additional conditions may be imposed at the discretion of the court, both at the time of sentence and subsequently upon application by a community corrections officer, juvenile justice officer or the offender. Read more.

Fines: When deciding the amount of a fine the magistrate or judge should consider your financial situation and your ability to pay any fine they set. Read more.

Section 10A: A section 10A is a conviction, with no other penalty attached to it. Read more.

Conditional Release Order (CRO): A CRO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the CRO. Read more.

Section 10 avoiding a criminal record. Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have a criminal record. However, if we can convince the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a Section 10 dismissal instead. Read more.

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.

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