Blackmail is the crime where you demand money from another person in exchange for not reporting something or to keep something a secret. The crime can be charged as a misdemeanor offense in federal court and lead to a prison term of up to one year. If you or a loved one is facing a blackmail charge, contact a criminal defense attorney now for help.
When can Blackmail Lead to a Federal Crime?
Blackmail, or extortion, is generally the crime where you make a threat to do something, or disclose something, that will in some way harm the victim of the threat. Offenders generally make the threat in an effort to obtain something of value. This could include money or some other non-tangible benefit.
Crimes of this type can be charged in state or federal court, depending on the facts of the case. 18 U.S.C. 873 is the federal statute that sets forth a specific subset of blackmail. Per this law, you are guilty of a federal blackmail crime if you:
- Demand or receive money, or something of value, and
- Do so after making threats of informing, or not informing, of a violation of any law of the US.
What are the Penalties?
Blackmail under federal law is a misdemeanor offense (as opposed to a felony). The crime is punishable by:
- Custody in prison for up to one year
- Probation, and/or
Note that the exact penalty will always vary depending on:
- the specific facts of a case, and
- factors listed under the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?
Fortunately, people accused of blackmail can contest the accusation by raising a legal defense. For example, a defendant can show that he/she never demanded anything of value in return for not reporting a federal crime. Similarly, an accused can show that the party he/she threatened never violated a federal law.
Accused people can also challenge a charge by showing that authorities violated their constitutional rights. For example, maybe the authorities:
- conducted an unlawful search or seizure,
- stopped or arrested the defendant without probable cause,
- coerced a confession, or
- failed to read the defendant his/her Miranda rights.
In these situations, a defendant can attempt to use the violation to try to get a blackmail charge reduced or even dropped altogether.
Contact Black & Askerov for Help
While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a blackmail charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on federal charges, including blackmail charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these types of cases. Our attorneys will also fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!