Blackmail is an offence contrary to section 172 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA). It carries a maximum penalty of 15 years for a basic offence, and 20 years for an aggravated offence.
The prosecution must prove five elements:
- The person made a demand to another;
- The person made a threat to harm another;
- The threat made was unwarranted;
- That a reasonable person of normal stability and courage would take seriously the threat or the victim receiving the threat took the threat seriously because of a vulnerability of that victim known to the person making the threat;
- The person intended to get the person to submit to the demand.
If a person is arrested and charged with the offence of blackmail, then they are a prescribed applicant pursuant to section 10A of the Bail Act 1985 (SA). A prescribed applicant does not have the usual presumption in favour of bail, and must establish that special circumstances exist justifying their release before bail can be granted.
Examples of blackmail include demanding marriage, access to children, access to money or controlling the performance of public duties. The subject-matter of the demand is irrelevant. The making of a demand can include verbal, written and other actions capable of amounting to a communication to whom it is directed.
The threat to harm can include physical, mental or economic harm – such as humiliation or serious embarrassment. In political and industrial contexts, threats do not include threats made in the course of or incidental to collective bargaining or negotiations securing political or industrial advantage.
Defences to blackmail often include a dispute on the facts which may result in the withdrawal or downgrade of the charge. Blackmail is a serious offence and it is imperative that your matter is defended properly at all times. If you are charged with blackmail, contact us to obtain expert, accurate and timely advice.