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Do you know the difference between blackmail and extortion?

At some point, you could find yourself in legal hot water where you could be facing allegations of blackmail or extortion. You are unsure of what should be your next move because you are not sure whether you committed a crime.

You’ve heard both the words “blackmail” and “extortion” used to describe your situation. But you aren’t even sure what either term legally means. Let’s explore further.

What is extortion?

When someone uses intimidation or threats of violence (either explicit or implied) to force someone to surrender property, money or some other thing of value, they could face charges of extortion. You might note the similarities to the charge of strong-arm robbery, i.e., “your money or your life” scenarios. The difference here is during a strong-arm robbery, the threat is immediate and present. With extortion, it is either stated or implied that your or your family’s well-being could be at risk in the future, or the security of your business might be breached.

What is blackmail?

Blackmail differs from extortion in that there is no direct or implied physical threat. Rather, the accused blackmailer will threaten to reveal information, pictures, videos or other incriminating evidence that can ruin their victim legally, personally, socially, professionally or in some other way unless their mark compensates them monetarily or with something else of value.

Could you face these charges?

It can be difficult to interpret your own legal vulnerabilities in such circumstances. However, it is always good to build a stalwart defense to any criminal allegations as soon as is possible.

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