Blackmail is a term that many people have heard in the past. What may surprise them is how much is entailed with this type of criminal activity. When a charge of blackmail is leveled at an individual, it pays to understand the severity of the situation. Here are some of the facts about blackmail and why it pays to retain legal counsel if another party is asserting this type of accusation.
What is Blackmail?
Blackmail is usually thought of as a means of obtaining a sum of money from another party in exchange for choosing to not reveal certain types of information. For example, a blackmailer may seek to secure a lump sum or maybe even receive an ongoing series of payments for not revealing something embarrassing about the business of personal life of the victim. This approach is particularly effective for the blackmailer when the individual stands to lose a great deal in terms of family, friends, or income if the information is brought to light.
At times, blackmailing may be a means of securing something other than money. In exchange for not revealing the damaging information, the blackmailer may be able to coerce the victim into awarding a business contract to a specific entity, give up parental rights, or back away from filing legal actions against another person. Whatever the form the blackmail takes, the result is that someone benefits from the arrangement while another person suffers.
Why Would People Become Victims of Blackmail?
Choosing to give in to the demands of a blackmailer often seems like the only practical way to avoid a series of unfortunate circumstances. In many cases, the underlying cause is to prevent embarrassing information from becoming public or at least being conveyed to someone that would sever all connections with the victim if that data were to come to light. Perhaps the blackmail revolves around infidelity that could harm the reputation of the victim in the community and lead to a messy and costly divorce. In order to avoid those outcomes, the victim may feel as if paying off the blackmailer is the only way to maintain the status quo and not incur a severe loss.
Is There a Difference Between Extortion and Blackmail?
While there are many similarities between the two crimes, it pays to understand what makes each one unique. Extortion is more likely to involve the threat of violence. That violence may be in the form of physical harm to the victim or someone that is close to the victim, or it could be a threat to damage properties owned by the victim. For example, an extortionist may demand money or other assets in exchange for not beating up the victim or refraining from setting fire to the victim’s residence.
Blackmail most often has to do with obtaining embarrassing or damaging information and threatening to release that data. There are no threats of violence, only a promise to pass the information on to persons who can make the life of the victim difficult.
Seeking Protection from Charges of Blackmail
A lawyer who accepts the case of someone accused of blackmail will take several steps to uncover the truth. One has to do with the opportunity to make such a threat. Is it possible to confirm that there is some type of connection between the client and the individual who makes the blackmail claim? That connection may be through a third party, a chance encounter at a public place where private information is overheard, or coming across documents left on desk. If there is no apparent way to connect the two parties, even indirectly, the lawyer is in a position to mount a defense that the allegations are false and the client is innocent.
Another factor to consider closely is motive. What would the accused party get from participating in such a scheme? If the allegation is money, does the current financial situation of the client indicate that a quick infusion of cash would prevent monetary difficulties? When the client is on sound financial footing and has no apparent need for any amount of money from the other party, the defense lawyer can bring out that fact in court.
Charges of blackmailing can ruin an individual’s life. Seek help from a lawyer as soon as the allegation is made and pursue an aggressive defense. Doing so enhances the odds of emerging from the situation with the reputation intact and paves the way for putting the entire issue in the past.