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The crime involving a threat for purposes of compelling a person to do an act against his or her will, or for purposes of taking the person's money or property.

The term blackmail originally denoted a payment made by English persons residing along the border of Scotland to influential Scottish chieftains in exchange for protection from thieves and marauders.

In blackmail the threat might consist of physical injury to the threatened person or to someone loved by that person, or injury to a person's reputation. In some cases the victim is told that an illegal act he or she had previously committed will be exposed if the victim fails to comply with the demand.

Although blackmail is generally synonymous with Extortion, some states distinguish the offenses by requiring that the former be in writing.

Blackmail is punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both.



West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


n. the crime of threatening to reveal embarrassing, disgraceful or damaging facts (or rumors) about a person to the public, family, spouse or associates unless paid off to not carry out the threat. It is one form of extortion (which may include other threats such as physical harm or damage to property). (See: extortion)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


in English law, a person is guilty of blackmail if, with a view to gain for himself or another or with intent to cause loss to another, he makes any unwarranted demand with menaces and for this purpose menaces are unwarranted unless the person making it does so in the belief that he had reasonable grounds for making the demand and that the use of menaces is a proper means of reinforcing the demand. For Scotland, see EXTORTION.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
Targeting cyber blackmailing victims of all ages, a two-week campaign commenced on Tuesday with the title, "Report, and your secret will be kept in a well" to encourage them to approach authorities through the hotline 24166828 or by emailing
Ian Strachan, 31, pleaded not guilty to a single charge of blackmailing the complainant for pounds 50,000 between January 1, 2007, and September 12, 2007.
Driza was cleared of blackmailing Judge Khan, with whom she was living up until her arrest.
Richard Epstein, for example, suggests that were blackmail to be legalized, it would encourage the formation of corporations such as his hypothetical "Blackmail Inc.," an organization devoted to ferreting out embarrassing (or worse) information on people and then blackmailing them to have it kept quiet.(25) Assuming the profitability of such an enterprise, a blackmailee might find himself the target of numerous independent approaches and, to meet the financial obligations incurred by this, might be led (or even encouraged) into committing crimes to pay for his chronic secrecy need.
Even if we were to assume, contrary to the claim of Part I.A, that legalizing blackmail would increase the expected cost of violating norms, legalization would still probably inhibit norm reform.(70) By this contrary hypothesis, the net effect of blackmail on criticism would depend on the sum of two offsetting effects: (1) legalization would increase the expected cost of violating norms and therefore increase the benefit of reforming inefficient norms; and (2) legalization would create expected profits from blackmailing norm violators and therefore create costs to reforming even inefficient norms.
The accused were blackmailing the girls by using videos and other material, said a spokesperson from the law enforcement agency.
LAHORE -- Social activist Sardar Azam Rasheed and others on Friday revealed the reality of a blackmailing gang which is involved in character assassination of the Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
He said the group is involved in blackmailing and cyber crime and uses edited footage to target their victims.
BADIN -- Police arrested on Tuesday the main suspect in relation to a girl's suicide in Badin due to online blackmailing.
Summary: Bhubaneshwar [Odisha], May 21 (ANI): Two days after sprinter Dutee Chand disclosed her same-sex relationship, the athlete on Tuesday alleged that she was forced to come out with the revelation as her sister was blackmailing her for a sum of twenty-five lakh rupees.
PESHAWAR -- Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested the famed Pashto singer Muneeba Shah on blackmailing charges.
Summary: Failing to report about such incidents, including online blackmailing, is also a crime and so must be brought to the police attention, they added.