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Blackmail

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.

CROSS-REFERENCES

Threats.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Bill of Particulars to William Benson Bryant