Blackmail is considered a serious crime under Australian law, and is punishable by significant jail time. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t understand what they should and shouldn’t do if they’ve been charged or appear likely to be charged with blackmail, which can lead to a range of problems.
The best advice that I can give anyone who is having any sort of problems with blackmail or extortion is to speak to criminal lawyers. Find someone with experience dealing with blackmail under Australia law, because it’s a crime that’s certainly possible to fight in the courts.
With this in mind, I’ve put together a short list of a few things that you should do if you have been or think you might be charged with blackmail.
Hire a lawyer!
As I’ve already said, hiring a lawyer should be your priority if you’re charged with blackmail in Australia. Since Australian blackmail law is tough, it’s in your best interest to try and build a strong defence as soon as possible.
In saying that, Australian blackmail laws are also quite vague. This means that it’s often possible to build a strong defence. Hiring an experienced lawyer will help you maximise your chances of successfully defending your case. In the worst case scenario, a good lawyer will be able to help you argue for lower penalties.
Understand the penalties
Unfortunately, a lot of people who are charged with blackmail in Australia don’t understand what penalties they are facing. The exact penalties do vary by state, but the penalties are significant throughout.
As an example, the penalties for extortion or blackmail in New South Wales range from a maximum of 10 to 14 years, depending on the severity and the circumstances surrounding the crime. However, it’s important to realise that these are only guides, and other penalties can include fines and community service orders.
Know your defences
If you’ve been charged with blackmail, it’s very important to do whatever you can to build a strong defence. Fortunately, there are a few options available when it comes to creating a defence, including:
- Deny that you committed the crime. This can work as a defence, but only if there’s little or no evidence against you.
- Deny that the supposed offence wasn’t actually blackmail. In this case, you need to be able to show that your actions were misinterpreted.
- Deny that you had any intention whatsoever or gaining benefit from or causing loss to the person accusing you of blackmail.
- Make a claim that you have been forced to blackmail someone by some third party. Obviously, this defence can be shaky if you have no proof.
An experienced criminal lawyer will be able to help you identify the best defence for your situation.
Ultimately, being charged with blackmail or extortion in Australia is extremely serious, and should be treated so. If you have been, or think that you could be charged with either of these crimes, then you need to speak to a lawyer, understand the possible penalties that you’re facing, and know what defences are available to you.