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California Blackmail Attorney – Penal Code 519 PC

How Can a Blackmail Attorney From My Rights Law Help Me?

If you are facing a blackmail charge, you’ll want to speak with a criminal defense attorney right away. My Rights Law experienced financial crimes lawyers can defend you and protect your rights. Contact us today through our secure web form or call (888) 702-8882 to set up a free case consultation.

What Is Blackmail?

Blackmail involves making threats to a person that they will reveal private or embarrassing information about them unless they do as the blackmailer demands. This information is typically very personal and may cause harm or humiliation to the person, their family, or loved ones.

Blackmail could be deemed a subcategory of extortion. Examples of blackmail include:

  • Using intimidation, threats, and force to compel another to give the blackmailer cash or possessions;
  • Using intimidation, threats, or coercion to push a public official to complete an official act or duty; and
  • Threatening to reveal a victim’s secret involving:
    • Scandal;[1]
    • Crime; or
    • Public humiliation.

Celebs and public officeholders are often targets for extortion.

Is Blackmail Distinct From Extortion?

As noted above, blackmail is typically considered a form of extortion. Nevertheless, it is necessary to mention that the crimes may be completely different.

With extortion, a person uses threats to get cash or property or forces an individual to engage in some action.[2] However, with blackmail, the only danger is the disclosure of personal info if the blackmailer’s requests are not met.

Because, in most circumstances, the blackmailer’s knowledge is true, revealing that information is not criminal. However, demanding cash or action by the victim to withhold that info is a criminal act.[3]

The criminal offense of blackmail involves threatening to reveal info that is:

  • Embarrassing;
  • Scandalous[4]; or
  • Harmful.

Unless the blackmailer’s orders are met, the info may be revealed to:

  • The public;
  • The person’s family;
  • Their partner; or
  • Their associates.

State laws overseeing blackmail may differ. There are also federal blackmail regulations.

Under federal blackmail statutes, the government generally must establish:

  • The defendant demanded funds or something of value from the alleged victim;
  • The defendant threatened that they would inform people about the alleged victim’s criminal activity; and
  • The defendant had knowledge related to prohibited activity and offered to withhold the information.

In other words, besides the moral implications of what the perpetrator is doing, their exposure of the info is not technically a crime. Nevertheless, blackmail, or using the info to threaten another person, is a crime.

What Are The Consequences Of Blackmail?

There can be multiple legal consequences of blackmail. Like extortion, blackmail is a felony.

The punishments for a blackmail conviction could include:

  • A prison sentence of a year or more;
  • Weighty criminal fines;[5] and
  • Probation.

Felonies are typically classified based on the seriousness of the offense. Every state has its statutes that provide guidelines regarding categorizing a felony offense in the state.

For example, murder may be classified as a Class A or a Class 1 felony in some states. These two classes are generally reserved for the most severe offenses and are crimes that can result in maximum punishment.

The categories of other offenses continue in an orderly manner, such as Class B or Class 2, Class C or Class 3, etc. The severity of the crimes and punishments will lessen with each classification.

It is essential to be aware that there are other consequences of felony convictions. In general, a felony conviction stays on an individual’s criminal record for the rest of their life. In that circumstance, you may wish to hire a criminal defense lawyer with proven results.

A felony conviction affects an individual in many ways, including:

  • Making it hard to find employment;
  • Making it hard to acquire custody rights over their kids;
  • Removing the right to vote in elections; and
  • Taking away the ability to own guns lawfully.

Further, if a person who has a felony conviction, or a felon, is convicted of another crime in the future, their punishment may be increased based on the number of felony convictions. This may result in a more extended prison sentence, increased fines, or other consequences.

If you were accused of extortion, blackmail, or any other crime, contact a California criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Remember, to be convicted of blackmail at a trial, the prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. You need a powerful defense. My Rights Law California white-collar crime lawyers can review the facts of your case and determine what legal defenses (e.g., false accusations) may apply.

What Happens During A Blackmail Case?

If another person is threatening an individual to disclose private or personal information about them, their family, or their loved ones, they will likely take certain steps. They might feel it is necessary to notify the local authorities.

Due to changing types of technology and the fact that most individuals have cameras on all devices they use daily, there is a greater chance of blackmail using technology. There are several steps a person who has been blackmailed might consider taking, including:

  • Notifying local law enforcement that they are being blackmailed;
  • Ending all contact with the blackmailer immediately;
  • Placing filters on an email account to block the blackmailer’s email address;
  • Blocking the blackmailer’s number on their cell phone;
  • Changing the privacy settings on all of their social media accounts to convey less information;
  • Changing any passwords, such as email and other accounts that may have been compromised or hacked;
  • Considering creating new accounts for both email and social media and advising friends and family that those accounts were hacked and they should not respond to any communication with them;
  • Putting password protections on all devices;
  • Covering webcams when not in use; and
  • Doing an internet search for their name and setting up alerts for any new online notifications.

In general, it may be a good idea to preserve all communications as evidence for a California blackmail case. Evidence of the crime will help the victim’s case.

If a person who is blackmailed deletes critical evidence, it may be challenging or impossible for an attorney to help them. If a victim is comfortable doing so, they might supply a copy of any evidence obtained to another trusted person to establish that the evidence was not tampered with.

It is also necessary to be aware that the crime of blackmail happens when the threat to release the information is made, even if no cash or property ever changes hands. If a person is being blackmailed, the blackmailer is breaking the law whether or not the victim relents to their demands.

What Are Potential Defenses To Extortion Or Blackmail?

Some possible defenses may be used against a charge of extortion or blackmail. If you are accused of blackmail, extortion, or any other crime, you may wish to contact a criminal attorney immediately.

A criminal attorney may be able to determine what defenses may be available to you and represent you in court. Some possible defenses to extortion or blackmail may include:

  • The defendant was falsely accused by the alleged victim;
  • The defendant never made any types of threats and did not coerce the victim into providing cash or property; and
  • No proof exists to support the charge.

Speak To An Experienced California Blackmail Lawyer Today

You may wish to have the help of a blackmail lawyer for any blackmail cases or extortion cases you may be involved in. If you are accused of extortion, blackmail, or any crime, you may wish to consider contacting a California criminal attorney as soon as possible. Your blackmail attorney may be able to advise you regarding the blackmail laws and what blackmail defenses are available to you and may be able to represent you during any court appearances.

Our experienced lawyers from My Rights Law may review the facts of your case, decide what blackmail defenses may apply, and potentially represent you during any court appearances. Our lawyers may, in some cases, be able to arrange a plea deal or a reduction of your blackmail charges. Contact us by filling out our secure web form or call (888) 702-8882 to set up a free consultation today.

Other financial crimes we defend include: Bribery, Fraud

FOOTNOTES
[1] Penal Code 519 PC
[2] People v. Hesslink
[3] CALCRIM No. 1830
[4] People v. Bollaert (2016) 248 Cal.App.4th 699
[5] California Penal Code 1170h PC

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