A person who menaces another person in order to get the other to submit to a demand is guilty of blackmail [Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) s 172]. Examples of blackmail include demanding marriage or access to children under the threat of violence or demanding money under the threat of violence.
The maximum penalties for blackmail are:
- 15 years’ imprisonment (if a basic offence)
- 20 years’ imprisonment (if an aggravated offence)
Whether the offence is aggravated depends on whether offence occurred under certain aggravating circumstances. These are listed in s 5AA in Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA). They include (but are not limited to) factors such as whether to offence was committed:
- using a weapon;
- against a police officer;
- against a victim under the age of 12 or over the age of 60;
- against a victim who had a particular relationship to the offender (e.g., a child, spouse or domestic partner);
- in association with a criminal organisation;
- whilst the offender was in a position of authority or trust;
- against a victim who was in a position of vulnerability because of physical disability or cognitive impairment.
It may be a defence to the charge that you:
- were under duress;
- have a factual dispute;
- had a lack of intention;
- identification dispute; or
- suffer from a mental impairment.
If you are charged with blackmail, the prosecution must prove that:
- You menaced another person, that is:
- You threatened harm to that person or a third person (to be inflicted by you or someone else);
- The threat was unwarranted; and
- It was reasonable that the other person would take that threat seriously (or the other person took the threat seriously because of a particular vulnerability known by you); and
- You menaced that person with the intention to get them tosubmit to a demand.
- The object of the demand is irrelevant.