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Is blackmail a crime? In Victoria, blackmail is a crime that carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment. Blackmail is a very serious offence. However, there is a wide range of penalties available to the court, and a wide range of conduct that can bring you within the charge. It is important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible so that an experienced criminal lawyer can assess your case and provide advice specific to your matter.

Is blackmail a crime?

The offence of blackmail is contained in section 87 of the Crimes Act 1958 which states:

A person is guilty of blackmail if, with a view to gain for himself or another or with intent to cause loss to another, he makes any unwarranted demand with menaces; and for this purpose a demand with menaces is unwarranted unless the person making it does so in the belief:

  • that he has reasonable grounds for making the demand; and
  • that the use of the menaces is proper means of reinforcing the demand.

What Actions Might Constitute Blackmail?

The following action could form the basis of a charge of blackmail:

  • Threatening to damage property if a particular task is not done;
  • Taking someone’s pet hostage and demanding that money be paid;
  • Demanding property from a person in exchange for safety from harm.

What the Police Must Prove

To convict you of blackmail, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That you made a demand;
  • That the demand was unwarranted;
  • That the demand was made with menaces;
  • That the demand was made with either a view to make a gain for yourself or another or with intent to cause a loss for another.

The prosecution must also prove that you did not have reasonable grounds for making the demand or that the use of menaces was not a proper means of reinforcing the demand.

Possible Defences for Blackmail

Possible defences to a blackmail charge include:

  • That the accused had reasonable grounds for making the demand;
  • That the acts threatened were proper means of reinforcing a demand.

Is blackmail a crime that is heard in the higher courts?

Blackmail is an indictable offence which must be heard in the County Court of Victoria.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Michelle Makela

This article was written by Michelle Makela

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

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