Is Blackmail a Crime? – Digital Forensics

It is said that the original term blackmail started on the borders of England and Scotland. Landowners in England used the term meaning payments made for protection from thieves and marauders in the Scottish Borders.  You may have even heard of blackmail in movies or on TV. Portrayed as this glamorous thing where someone is trying to get something from another person. In reality, blackmail is a serious crime that can have major consequences for both the victim and the perpetrator. If you’re a victim of Instagram blackmail or any other type of internet scam, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of the crime so that you can protect yourself.

What is Blackmail?

Blackmail is essentially extorting someone for money or information. The perpetrator threatens to release damaging information about the victim unless they are paid off. 

This could be anything from blackmailing someone for financial gain to releasing private photos or videos as leverage. 

In some cases, the information that is being used to blackmail someone may not even be true. However, the threat of the damage that could be done is enough to make the victim comply with the demands of the perpetrator. Some examples are listed below. Why is blackmail a crime? Because it’s illegal


  • Someone who threatens to harm a victim’s family unless the plaintiff drops the lawsuit.
  • When a person threatens to keep quiet about an extramarital affair in exchange for money.
  • A threat to divulge embarrassing information, photos, or videos to obtain money.
  • Using your feelings as a means of controlling your behavior or persuading you to see things their way describes emotional blackmail.

Is Blackmail a Federal Crime? 

Yes, blackmail is a crime. Even if you get an email blackmailed, it can be still a ground for putting someone in jail. If you are caught blackmailing someone, you could face serious legal consequences. These consequences will vary depending on the severity of the crime and the state in which it was committed. In some cases, you may only be facing misdemeanor charges and a small fine. However, in other cases, you could be facing felony charges and up to 20 years in prison.  

Two particularly important differences between states are:

  • The defendant must have succeeded in blackmailing the victim, resulting in the victim complying with his threats.
  • It is also important to determine whether the defendant receives property as a result of blackmail.

Now you know the answer to the question – is blackmail a crime? It’s time to understand what to do if you’re being blackmailed.

What Should I Do if I’m Being Blackmailed? 

If you are being blackmailed, it’s important to seek help from a legal professional as soon as possible. They will be able to advise you on what steps to take next. Depending on your situation, you may need to go to the police or take civil action against the perpetrator. It’s also important to keep any evidence that you have (e-mails, text messages, etc.) so that it can be used as evidence in court. 

Blackmail or extortion under Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 873 is a federal crime punishable by up to one year in federal prison, a fine, or both imprisonment and a fine. In case you are questioning yourself should I ignore blackmail – it’s not always the best solution.

What Actions Might Constitute Blackmail?

Blackmail is a criminal offense that consists of obtaining something from another person through threats. The threat can be expressed or implied, and sometimes there are no words used at all – it’s just about what gestures you make. 

As seen in the examples above with regards to children being forced into sexual acts against their will (or even worse), money demands because “you have nothing without me,” etc., though this doesn’t mean everyone who uses these tactics will face charges for Blackmail since each individual case must show intent before anything else depending on where they’re located

What are the penalties?

Blackmail can be a serious offense. The penalties for this type of crime vary depending on where it happens, but generally speaking, they are felony charges rather than misdemeanors 

In California threatening someone with leaked private information could result in 4 years behind bars and fines up to $10k! In Colorado threats over personal data carry intermediary penalties between two.

Are there any legal defenses?

The best way to fight these criminal charges is by consulting with an experienced attorney who can raise any number of legal defenses, such as there being no threat or false accusations. Consultation from a reputable law firm will help you in your quest for freedom!

What must the police prove?

Beyond a reasonable doubt, the police must prove that you: 

  1. Made an unwarranted demand with menaces; and
  2. In making the demand, you intended to:
  • obtain gain;
  • cause loss;
  • influence public duty.



Blackmail is a serious crime that can have major implications for both the victim and the perpetrator. If you find yourself in a situation where you are being blackmailed, it’s important to seek help from a legal professional so that they can advise you on what steps to take next. Keep any evidence that you have of the blackmail and do not communicate with the perpetrator any further. Report any Blackmail to Digital Forensics, we can start your case right away. 



What is blackmail?

Blackmail is essentially extorting someone for money or information. The perpetrator threatens to release damaging information about the victim unless they are paid off. Blackmail is a crime.

How can I prevent blackmail?

To keep your data private, use privacy settings on social media accounts like Facebook and Instagram. You can also hide certain profile info such as friends or interests by going into account settings from each site individually! Never accept friend requests through messaging applications if they are not known to you – always verify their identity before letting them see personal information about yourself (including pictures). Be careful when clicking links sent in emails that seem suspicious; there could be malware hidden within these attachments instead of what was promised which will infect both computer systems AND mobile devices alike without permission so resist the urge towards curiosity