blackmail LAWYERS - Extortion DEFENCE SOLICITORS
Our expert Extortion Lawyers are specialists in defending individuals accused of this type of offence. You will need urgent legal assistance from an experienced team of criminal defence lawyers if you find yourself facing allegations or charges of either extortion or blackmail. Both charges are serious, and carry severe legal penalties. If found guilty, these offences carry a maximum prison sentencing of up to 14 years, so it is important that you have specialist legal representation from the outset.
Being the subject of an investigation for blackmail or extortion will be both stressful and worrying, so choosing the right solicitor for you and your case is extremely important. Draycott Browne have over twenty years of experience and knowledge gained in this area of law - contact us today for immediate advice. We will listen to you, gather all of the evidence and work tirelessly on your behalf to defend your case.
WHAT IS BLACKMAIL?
The offence of blackmail is described in section 21 of the Theft Act 1968 as “making an unwarranted demand with menaces” with the view to gain something, monetary or otherwise, or with the intent to cause loss to someone else. An “unwarranted demand” is a demand made alongside threats, and not in a situation where the person making the demand believes that they have justifiable reasons for doing so.
The threat made does not necessarily have to be violent in nature but needs to be considered serious in relation to the victim and intended to cause a severe effect upon them. “Menaces” in this instance refers to coercion. It involves a threat of a consequence towards the victim if the demand is not met.
Demands can be made by a range of means, including postal communication, email or text or phone message. It is enough for either the demand or threat to be implied for a crime to have been committed – neither need to be explicitly made. For example, if a message is written containing a demand with a threat, it instantly becomes a criminal matter; this could include an unread text or answer phone message – a crime has been committed with the issuing of the threat, irrespective of whether the intended recipient has seen it or not.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BLACKMAIL AND EXTORTION?
If you are being accused of this type of criminal offence, you may be wondering what is the difference between blackmail and extortion. The specific definition can sometimes create confusion, and leave some circumstances to be interpreted by the counsel and judges. The sentencing guidelines are the same for both crimes, but the acts can be defined separately.
The crime of extortion is very similar to blackmail. It also involves obtaining something from another person (usually money, property, or services) through the use of threats of physical harm or coercion.
Generally speaking, an act can be defined as extortion when the actions that are threatened in the unwarranted demand would include physical violence or damage, or constitute an offence themselves. A protection racket, for example (a criminal system where “protection” from harm is offered for money) falls under this category.
Charges that sit alongside blackmail and extortion under the same legislation include:
- Making threats to harm or to kill another person
As a threat of physical harm, and constituting a criminal offence itself, threatening to harm or kill someone while making a demand is treated as an extortion offence.
- Demanding money with menaces
The act of making a threat to demand money from an individual or entity falls under the same category of offences as extortion and blackmail. The threat can be physical or not, and does not necessarily need to include the threat of a criminal offence.
Kidnapping will usually include the threat of harming the kidnapped person, and a demand for money or other types of gains for the offender. As this is also an unwarranted demand with menace, it can be treated under the same legislation as other types of extortion or blackmail offences.
If you have been accused of a similar crime and are unsure about how to build a strong defence, contact the Extortion and Blackmail Lawyers at Draycott Browne. We have decades of experience in defending such cases, and securing the best possible outcome for defendants in a variety of cases.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I AM ACCUSED OF BLACKMAIL OR EXTORTION?
If you are investigated or arrested on suspicion of having committed either blackmail or extortion, it is highly likely that your phone, PC, or any other devices used for communication will be analysed. It is important that you run through any relevant communications with your Blackmail Lawyers so that they fully understand the situation that you are in and the context of the complaint or allegation. The way in which any demands or communications were made will be key in determining the outcome of the case. Your solicitor will look at comparable cases for guidance – courts will consider:
- the demand that has been made or alleged and the way in which it was communicated
- the nature of the threat if the demand that was made was not met
- the ability of the victim to meet that demand
- the impact on the victim as a result of the threat, for example the level of distress and fear caused
- the intention to cause distress and fear
HOW IS A BLACKMAIL CHARGE DEFENDED?
In order to be found guilty, the prosecution must prove that any demands made were not reasonable, and that the use of menaces was improper. These are not straightforward claims to prove, and a team of experienced Blackmail Lawyers will be able to argue your case if you feel that you had reasonable grounds or motivation for your actions.
The defence available to you will depend broadly on the nature of the allegations – there are many different scenarios and levels of severity when it comes to the crimes of blackmail and extortion. Context is everything, and the Crown Court, which deals with charges of blackmail and extortion, will consider the communication that took place between you and the alleged victim, the level of organisation involved, the types of threatened actions, and the consequences to the victim. We will seek to demonstrate where possible that you had reasonable grounds for making the demand, and that the use of menaces was a reasonable means of reinforcement.
WHAT ARE THE Sentencing Guidelines FOR BLACKMAIL AND EXTORTION?
Blackmail and extortion both fall under the same sentencing guidelines. If found guilty of either offence, the maximum sentence is 14 years in prison. There is a great deal of difference between a threat to damage property, and a serious threat of violence against a person over a prolonged period of time, and this would be reflected in the sentence.
The blackmail sentencing guidelines outline a process that must be followed by the courts in order to define the sentence for each case of blackmail or extortion. They include a provisional sentence that must be decided with consideration of the maximum sentencing, and any judgements from the criminal division of the Court of Appeal. The provisional sentence is then used as a basis, and the court must consider additional mitigating factors.
There are several mitigating factors that a Court would consider when deciding on an appropriate sentence, including:
- your character up until this point, and any previous conviction
- whether you have shown any remorse for your actions
- whether you cooperated with the investigation
- whether your activity at the outset was legitimate, or you believed it to be so
- whether you have a learning disability or a mental disorder
- whether you have any serious medical conditions requiring treatment
- whether you have responsibility for dependents, or are a carer
If you have any concerns or queries about the sentence you may potentially face, one of our experienced Blackmail Lawyers will be able to talk you through possible outcomes in relation to your unique situation. However, both blackmail and extortion are grave offences, and if found guilty a custodial sentence is likely.
HOW CAN DRAYCOTT BROWNE HELP?
The crimes of blackmail and extortion are extremely serious, and we understand that if charged you will be extremely anxious about the impact on your life and those around you. The criminal defence team at Draycott Browne are well known for extremely high levels of client care and service – we will represent you from your initial police interview right through to any trial or proceedings that arise.
Allegations of blackmail and extortion require a robust and thorough defence strategy – our expert criminal defence lawyers will stand by your side, tenaciously defending your best interests. If you are facing such criminal charges, contact us as soon as possible - based in Manchester, we regularly attend police stations, Magistrates and Crown Courts across the north west, and represent clients throughout England and Wales.
If you or someone you know has been accused of crime involving extortion or blackmail, it is essential that you engage the expertise of professional criminal defence solicitors who will be able to help and advise you on a defence strategy as soon as possible. Contact us today by calling the number on this page. If you would like us to contact you, simply fill in our online enquiry form and a member of the team will be in touch as soon as possible.
We are highly regarded nationally across the legal profession and noted for consistently delivering positive results for our clients. Our expert Serious Crime Solicitors regularly act for clients in Manchester, Preston, Blackpool, Liverpool, Leeds, Nottingham, Birmingham, and London. As a recognised criminal defence law firm we can represent you wherever you live in England and Wales.
By entrusting one of the top Criminal Defence Firms in the country, you can be assured that you will be working with a team of highly skilled and experienced lawyers who have a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of this complex area of law.
Our legal team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you need expert legal advice or representation, call us in confidence now.
When you are facing the stiffest challenges, you cannot afford to settle for anything less than Draycott Browne.