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Blackmail Is Illegal in the State of Texas

Blackmail is a unique crime that does not quite reach the level of robbery but is in the same family. Blackmail and extortion are often used interchangeably, but legal distinctions do exist. Blackmail charges do not reach the same level of severity as robbery charges because the victims involved generally are not in immediate fear of being physically injured. Ultimately, the alleged blackmailer presumably wants the person being blackmailed to be capable of complying with his or her demands. If you are facing a blackmail charge, seek the professional legal counsel of an experienced Lampasas criminal defense lawyer today.

Is it Blackmail or Is it Extortion?

While the terms blackmail and extortion are often swapped out for one another, Texas law does distinguish between the two. Although both are theft crimes, the primary distinction between the two is pronounced.

Extortion

Extortion relates to the use of coercion in pursuit of someone else’s property, services, or money, and the coercion involved usually amounts to one of the following categories of threat:

  • The threat of becoming violent

  • The threat of destroying one’s property

  • The threat of performing an inappropriate government action or refusing to perform an appropriate government action

  • The threat of withholding testimony in a pending trial

In the past, the charge of extortion was reserved solely for government officials, but this is no longer the case. Further, extortion can be charged at either the state or federal level.

Blackmail

Blackmail, as mentioned, is also a crime of theft that involves threats, but the threat of violence to the person being blackmailed or destruction to his or her property is generally off the table. Blackmail, instead, focuses on the threat of disclosing information that is extremely embarrassing to the victim and/or that threatens his or her social standing. The person being blackmailed is required to purchase the blackmailer's silence with money, services, or property.

The Elements of Both Blackmail and Extortion

The elements necessary for either a blackmail or extortion charge include:

  • Threaten – The blackmailer or extortionist must threaten the victim verbally, in written form, or via nonverbal gestures.

  • Intent – The blackmailer or extortionist must intend to either blackmail or extort the victim.

  • Fear – The blackmailer or extortionist must intend for the victim to fear the threat of either blackmail or extortion (although it is not necessary for the victim to actually feel fear).

  • Property – The blackmailer or extortionist’s scheme must include something of value (property), although the value need not be financial and the property need not be physical. Further, the blackmailer or extortionist need not achieve his goal of depriving the victim of the thing of value but, instead, must only intend to do so.

Turn to an Experienced Lampasas Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Lampasas, Texas, is a seasoned criminal defense lawyer who takes great pride in helping clients like you resolve their cases beneficially. To learn more about how we can help you, please do not wait to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.

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