This article was written by Samira Ashkar - Senior Associate - Sydney

Samira holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) from the University of Wollongong. She also has a Masters of Dispute Resolution from the University of Technology Sydney and has completed a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. Samira is admitted as a solicitor in New South Wales but is also highly experienced in Australian federal law areas...

What Does Extortion Mean? (Vic) 


What does extortion mean? Extortion is a criminal offence involving a demand that is coupled with either a threat to kill or injure a person or a threat to destroy property. Offences that relate to extortion in Victoria are contained in the Crimes Act 1958 and are very serious offences that can result in heavy penalties including full-time imprisonment.

Legislation

The Crimes Act 1958 contains two separate offences of extortion:

  • Extortion with a threat to kill, injure or endanger life (s27); or
  • Extortion with a threat to destroy or endanger property (s28).

Extortion with a threat to kill, injure or endanger life

The offence of extortion with a threat to kill or injure a person occurs when a person makes a demand of another individual with a threat to either kill, inflict an injury on a person or endanger the life of another person. If a person is found guilty of this offence, they face a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment.

To prove the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. That a demand was made by the accused;
  2. That the demand was accompanied by a threat to kill, inflict injury or endanger the life of another; and
  3. That the accused intended that the victim would fear that the threat would be carried out unless they complied with the demand.

Essentially, the offence firstly needs to be proven that a reasonable person would have understood that a demand had been made in the circumstances. Secondly, the demand must feature a threat to one’s life either via words, conduct or a combination of both. Finally, the prosecution must prove that the accused intended for the person to fear that the threat would be carried out.

Extortion with a threat to destroy or endanger property

The offence of extortion with a threat to destroy or damage property occurs when a person makes a demand of another person, accompanied by threat to destroy or endanger the safety of property. The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.

To prove the offence, the prosecution must show:

  1. That a demand was made by the accused;
  2. That the demand was accompanied by a threat to destroy or endanger property; and
  3. It was the accused’s intention that the victim would fear the threat would be carried out unless they complied with the demand.

If any of these elements cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then the charge will not be proven. 

Other types of extortion offences can include blackmail and kidnapping.

Kidnapping

Kidnapping is a very serious offence that can carry a maximum term of 25 years imprisonment and is contained in section 63A of the Crimes Act 1958.

There are five elements that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt for a court to find a person guilty of kidnapping. These are:

1. That the accused took or carried a person away;

2. That the person was denied of his or her liberty;

3. That the accused did this by force or fraud;

4. That there was no consent to carry out the conduct; and

5. That the accused acted without lawful justification or excuse.

Blackmail

Blackmail is an offence under section 87 of The Crimes Act 1958. There are five elements that the prosecution must prove to find a person guilty of blackmail. These are:

  1. A demand was made;
  2. The demand was made with a view to bring about a gain for the accused or another, or with intent to cause a loss to another;
  3. The demand was made with menace;
  4. The accused intended the recipient of the demand to fear that the threat would be carried out unless the recipient complied with the demand;
  5. The demand was unwarranted.

Blackmail can attract a penalty of up to 15 years imprisonment.

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

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