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In its simplest form, the offence of extortion has a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment in the majority of cases.

In certain circumstances, the maximum penalty increases dramatically to life imprisonment, this includes extortion involving demands made that cause or are likely to cause serious personal injury, or substantial economic loss.

In Queensland, a court can impose any of the following penalties for this charge:

The Offence of Extortion:

Sections 415 of the Queensland Criminal Code states:

A person (the “demander”) who, without reasonable cause, makes a demand—

  • with intent to—
    • gain a benefit for any person (whether or not the demander); or
    • cause a detriment to any person other than the demander; and
  • with a threat to cause a detriment to any person other than the demander; commits a crime.

The maximum penalty for this offence in its simpliciter is 14 years imprisonment.

This maximum penalty increases to life imprisonment in the following two circumstances:

  • if carrying out the threat causes, or would be likely to cause, serious personal injury to a person other than the offender; or
  • if carrying out the threat causes, or would be likely to cause, substantial economic loss in an industrial or commercial activity conducted by a person or entity other than the offender (whether the activity is conducted by a public authority or as a private enterprise)—life imprisonment.

This section also includes the following interpretations:

It is immaterial that—

  • the demand or threat is made in a way ordinarily used to inform the public rather than a particular person; or
  • the threat does not specify the detriment to be caused; or
  • the threat does not specify the person to whom the detriment is to be caused or specifies this in a general way; or

Example: a threat to cause a detriment to the public or any members of the public

  • the detriment is to be caused by someone other than the demander.

What Actions Might Constitute Extortion?

In order to convict you of extortion, it must be proven that you:

  • Threatening to post naked pictures of your ex-girlfriend on the internet if she doesn’t pay you $1,000
  • Threatening to “run-through” a home with firearms if the home owner does not repay a drug debt.
  • A Police Officer demanding $10,000 from a known criminal or else he will execute a search warrant on their house.

What the Police Must Prove:

In order to convict you of extortion, it must be proven that you:

  • Made a demand
  • Without reasonable cause
  • With the intent to gain a benefit for or cause a detriment to any person; or
  • With a threat to cause a detriment to any person other than the demander

Possible Defences to Extortion:

Possible defences to this offence include but are not limited to

  • The accused is not the person who made the demand
  • The accused had reasonable cause to make the demand
  • The accused had no intention to gain a benefit or cause a detriment
  • The accused was coerced into making the demand against his will.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

Extortion is an offence that is heard and determined in either the Magistrates Court or District Court, depending on the seriousness of the particular offending.

Types of penalties:

Imprisonment : Even though it is not a sentence of last resort (as it is in some other states) imprisonment is the most serious penalty which a court can impose upon a person. At its most severe a sentence of imprisonment means that a person must spend a specified period of time within a correctional facility, also called a prison, a jail or a gaol. Read more.

Intensive corrections order (ICO): An Intensive Corrections Order (‘ICO’ for short) is, technically, a form of imprisonment but which is served wholly in the community. This means that a person who is made subject to an ICO will not spend any time in prison but will, instead, be required to adhere to a number of requirements that the court will order. Read more.

Probation: A court can make a Probation Order either by itself, meaning the whole of the sentence is probation, or as a component of a sentence of imprisonment, meaning that a person is ordered to serve a period of time (not longer than 1 year) in prison and is then subject to a probation requirement upon release. Read more.

Community service order(CSO): As the name implies, a Community Service Order (‘CSO’ for short) is an order which requires a person to perform unpaid work, normally at some kind of community facility, for a stated number of hours (to a maximum of 240) within a nominated time (usually 6 or 12 months). Read More.

Recognisance: A recognisance is a promise which a person makes to be of good behaviour for a stated period of time. A court is empowered to release a person who enters into a recognisance, either with a surety, which is a sum of money which the person agrees to pay if they breach the recognisance, or without one. Read More.

Fines: A court is empowered to impose a fine, which is a sum of money which a person is required to pay to the State, for any offence regardless of whether the law creating it nominates a fine as part of the applicable penalty. Read More.

Section 19 dismissal: A court can discharge a person absolutely, or upon them entering into a recognisance, without recording a conviction against them, if it is satisfied that it is appropriate to do so. Read More.

In all cases where you are sentenced to a penalty other than jail, the Court can choose not to record a conviction against you, meaning your criminal record will remain clear and any complications with work or travel may be avoided.


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