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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 ?
The first is that what the blackmailer threatens to do, characteristically, is merely to reveal or publicize what is true of, albeit highly damaging to, another.
It is understood bundles of cash in used notes were paid to the blackmailers over several months.
It is an easy way that allows blackmailers and scammers to hack the users' bank account and empty it out of cash.
Although I did not explicitly deny it in my original paper, I did not "assume [that] blackmailers [must] limit themselves to a single payment based on the mark's present financial means."(31) In earlier writings I had explicitly suggested an ongoing payment schedule.(32)
He also paid pounds 800 to have a blackmailer, who knew his secret, sent to Australia where he would be out of the way for good.
Payments only stopped - after he had handed over more than pounds 60,000 - when one of the blackmailers died in 1996.
The lawyer paid pounds 20,000 as a first instalment to the blackmailers after the tape was stolen, a court heard.
Elle, 33, was ordered to attach a piece of ribbon below her mailbox to signal that she agreed to the blackmailers' terms.
The first details of the plot were revealed yesterday when the alleged blackmailers, Robert Mischler, 29, and William Holt, 26, appeared in court.
Wole Soyinka being a 'blackmailer', over the Nobel Laureate's statement of the Buhari-led administration behaving like Abacha by arresting Omoyele Sowore.
Summary: More and more youngsters are falling prey to online blackmailers who are out to hit their target.
NAB has described the audio-videos as 'scandalous' and an attempt by the blackmailers to tarnish the image of the leading state institution.