The charge of Blackmail is usually laid when someone tries to force another person to do something by threatening them.
Sentencing in the higher courts of Victoria Sentencing Statistics Pie Chart for Blackmail in the Higher Courts
It is an indictable charge, which means it must be heard in the County Court.
Examples of Blackmail
  • Someone demands $20,000 in exchange for not publishing naked photos of another person online.
  • Someone says he will poison his ex-partner’s dog if she doesn’t agree to restart their relationship.
  • A builder threatens to hurt the family of an ex-client that refuses to pay a bill for dangerously faulty construction work.
What is the legal definition of Blackmail?
The legal definition of Blackmail has 5 basic parts:

  1. Someone demands something from another person;
  2. The demand is made in order to make a gain, or to cause a loss to the other person;
  3. The demand is made with threats;
  4. The threats are real; and
  5. The demand is unreasonable.
The section that covers this offence is section 87 of the Crimes Act 1958.1

Elements of the offence
For an accused to be found guilty of Blackmail, the following elements must be proven by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused made any unwarranted demand with menaces, and
  2. The accused, in making said demand, had a view to gain for himself or for another, or had an intent to cause loss to another.
“Was there actually a threat?”

  • There was no intention to threaten the other person.
  • There were reasonable grounds to demand that the other person do something, and the threat was a lawful way of reinforcing the demand.
Our client told a woman that he would reveal their affair to her husband unless she continued to have sex with him. He pleaded guilty to blackmail.
Questions in cases like this
  • Was there a breakdown of communication?
  • Was there a legal and reasonable expectation that the other person do something?

The maximum penalty for Blackmail (s87 of the Crimes Act 1958) is imprisonment for 15 years.