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What Is Extortion In Australia?

What Is Extortion In Australia

Extortion is a serious criminal offence in Australia that involves compelling another person to do something against their will, often through the use of threats or intimidation. This unlawful act carries severe consequences under Australian law, including hefty fines and significant prison sentences.

Define Extortion

Extortion is a criminal offence in which an individual, through the use of threats, coercion, or intimidation, compels another person to perform an act or refrain from doing something they have a legal right to do.

 

This act is committed with the intention of obtaining money, property, services, or some other form of advantage from the victim. Extortion can take various forms, and it is considered an indictable offence under Australian law.

Being charged with extortion in Australia is a grave matter. The maximum penalty for this offence can vary depending on the specific circumstances and the state or territory where the crime occurred. In some cases, extortion may be punishable by up to 25 years imprisonment, making it one of the most serious criminal offences in the country.

 

The offence of blackmail is outlined in Section 249K of the Crimes Act 1900. In New South Wales, when people mention extortion, they are usually referring to this specific offence. Blackmail occurs when an individual makes an unjustified request using threats towards another person. If found guilty, the maximum punishment for this offence is a ten-year prison sentence.

 

Type of Extortion

 

Extortion can manifest in several forms, but the most common involves a threat of violence or harm to the victim, their property, or their loved ones. This form of extortion is particularly prevalent in cases involving organised crime, but it can also occur in more personal settings. For example, an individual might attempt to extort money from a friend or family member by threatening to reveal damaging information about them.

 

Sending a letter with a threat to harm or kill someone is considered illegal in New South Wales. If convicted, the offender can face a maximum sentence of ten years behind bars and a criminal record. Additionally, those who are involved in the act of sending such a letter can also be held accountable for this crime.

 

Offence of Extortion vs. Offence of Blackmail

 

While extortion and blackmail share similarities, they are distinct offences under Australian law. Blackmail typically involves making a threat with the intention of obtaining a benefit, usually monetary, from the victim. In contrast, extortion often includes a wider range of coercive tactics and may involve threats beyond mere disclosure of damaging information. Both offences are treated seriously in the criminal justice system and carry significant penalties upon conviction.

How To Prove Extortion In Australia?

To secure a conviction for extortion, it is crucial to prove that the accused engaged in conduct that meets the legal criteria for the offence. This includes demonstrating that:

 

  • A Threat Was Made: It must be established that the accused communicated a threat, either directly or indirectly, to the victim.
  • Intent to Obtain Something of Value: It must be shown that the accused intended to gain money, property, services, or some other form of advantage from the victim.
  • The Victim Was Compelled: It is essential to demonstrate that the victim was coerced or compelled to act against their will as a result of the threat.
  • The Act Was Unlawful: The conduct of the accused must be clearly unlawful under Australian criminal law.
  • Causation: It must be proven that the threat directly caused the victim to comply with the demands of the accused.

Evidence in an extortion case may include written or recorded communication, eyewitness testimonies, surveillance footage, or any other relevant documentation that supports the allegations.

 

Accordingly, if you are accused of engaging in blackmail, the prosecuting party needs to demonstrate the following elements:

 

  • You intimidated another individual by either directly threatening to cause harm to them or a third party, whether by your own actions or through someone else’s involvement.
  • The threat made was unjustified and without any valid reason.
  • It was reasonable for the targeted person to perceive the threat as serious, or they took it seriously due to a specific vulnerability that you were aware of.
  • Your intention in menacing the individual was to coerce them into complying with your demands.

The specific nature of the demands is not relevant.

 

Property Damage as a Form of Extortion

 

In some cases, extortion may involve the threat of property damage rather than physical harm. This form of extortion is equally unlawful and can result in severe consequences for the perpetrator. For example, an individual may threaten to vandalise a business or personal property unless their demands are met.

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Pleading Guilty to Extortion Charges

In certain instances, an accused individual may choose to plead guilty to extortion charges. This decision should be made in consultation with criminal defence lawyers and after careful consideration of the evidence against them. Pleading guilty may result in a more lenient sentence, but it is essential to understand the potential consequences and seek legal advice before making such a decision.

 

Extortion is a serious criminal offence in Australia, carrying hefty penalties for those convicted. Understanding the elements required to prove extortion in a court of law is crucial for both legal professionals and individuals who may find themselves involved in such cases. With severe consequences at stake, it is imperative to consult with legal experts and seek appropriate representation when facing extortion charges in Australia.

 

If you have been charged with an extortion offence in NSW, contact our assault lawyer in Sydney. We can provide you with free legal advice up to 15 minutes on the phone. Contact us today.

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