Criminal Offences


In NSW, the offence of blackmail is a serious criminal offence as seen in section 249K of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). The Crimes Act states that:

    1. Any person who make any unwarranted demand with menaces:
      1. With the intention of obtaining a gain or of causing a loss, or
      2. With the intention of influencing the exercise of public duty

      is guilty of an offence.

  1. A person is guilty of an offence against this subsection if the person commits an offence against subsection (1) by an accusation, or threatened accusation, that a person has committed a serious indictable offence.

As a leading criminal defence law firm based in Sydney, our expert team of criminal lawyers possess a wealth of knowledge in relation to charges of blackmail.

If you or somebody you know is facing such charges, contact Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders now for a first consultation.



Extortion blackmail involves a blackmailer demanding money from their target in exchange for keeping sensitive information secret. The blackmailer often substantiates their threat with evidence such as photos, emails, or receipts and makes clear how the information will be used if their demands are not met, such as exposure to a spouse, employer, or online, or media exposure in the case of public figures. This form of blackmail can persist for years, with its extent and cost largely depending on the nature of the information and the target’s desperation to keep it hidden.


Coercion blackmail, on the other hand, typically doesn’t revolve around direct monetary demands. Instead, the target is forced to perform certain actions or behave in a specific manner to prevent their secrets from being revealed. This can escalate to the target committing crimes or performing tasks for the blackmailer, essentially feeling compelled to act against their will or interests to maintain their secret.


In the realm of business, commercial pressure blackmail is common, involving sensitive information that could significantly damage a company’s public image. Examples include illegal activities like toxic waste dumping or unethical business practices. Blackmailers in these scenarios may demand financial compensation or threaten to expose the information to media or business competitors. Sometimes, coercion is also used, such as demanding job promotions, raises, or business advantages in exchange for silence. These cases are particularly complex as the concealed information often has serious implications for investors and the public, making both the blackmailer and the company ethically and legally culpable.


The charge of blackmail is perceived as a very serious offence as seen in Section 249K of the Crimes Act 1900. If found guilty by the means of subsection 1, an individual is liable to a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Alternatively, if an individual is found guilty by the definition of subsection 2, they are liable to an increased maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment. It is also important to know that Crimes Statistics Australia reveals that 72% of extortion related offence result in a full time custodial sentence, and with the serious nature of this particular offence, this penalty can be likely.

However, statistics also show that 27% of extortion related offences attract other non-custodial orders as seen appropriate by the Court. Upon consideration of the circumstances surrounding offence, personal situation and any previous criminal history, the Court may use their discretion to enforce alternative punishments such as intensive correction orders (ICOs), home detention, community service orders (CSOs), good behaviour bonds, a monetary fine or a suspended sentence. It is also important to be aware that the matter of blackmail can not be dealt with by the means of a section 10 dismissal, therefore a punishment of some sort will be imposed if found guilty.


In order to be found guilty of blackmail as per section 249K of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you made a demand with threats in order to either obtain a gain, cause a loss or influence those who have a duty to the public. If you tend to agree with the allegations of blackmail that are made against you, and the prosecution to prove this charge beyond reasonable doubt, you have the option to plead guilty. This will result in criminal conviction and can attract the penalties listed above.

However, it is also important to consider that a guilty plea is looked at favourably in the judicial system as it demonstrates remorse by the offender. As a result of this, the Court may award reduced sentences depending on the circumstances.

For the best advice, please contact our dedicated criminal defence lawyers to schedule a confidential consultation.


You also have the option to plead not guilty to the charges of blackmail should you wish. If you decide to plead not guilty, a brief of evidence will be served. This brief contains all the evidence that the prosecution will use to try and convict you of the blackmail. Our expert criminal defence lawyers will thoroughly and carefully examine this brief and provide you with advice in relation to the findings. Once the evidence has been considered, you will have the ability to adhere to the not guilty plea or change your plea to guilty. Regardless of the decision, a hearing date will be set.

At the defended hearing, witnesses will be in Court to explain their own version of events. These witnesses can include the Police, forensic experts, anyone who witnessed the event, anyone who was in the area at the time of the offence and any victims. Your criminal defence lawyers will then have the ability to cross-examine these witnesses and ask the questions that have not yet been asked of them to cast doubt of the reliability of the evidence they present to the Court.

Furthermore, our criminal lawyers will have the ability to dismiss the allegations using relevant defence strategies. Should these defences be successful, uncertainty will be raised upon the evidence provided by the prosecution, thus disproving their claims beyond a reasonable doubt. In this instance, you will be found not guilty for the charges of blackmail. However, it is important to understand that some defences only partially defend a claim in which you may be found guilty to a lesser charge. If this happens, you will be liable to penalties of some sort, however these penalties are usually less significant and therefore this outcome warrants a more positive result.


There are many possible defences that our criminal defence lawyers may use on an individual’s behalf in relation to charges of blackmail. These defences include but are not limited to:

Duress: Encompasses the use of unlawful coercion to persuade a person to partake in an activity they would not usually participate in. This coercion can take form of harmful threats such as death or grievous bodily harm in which the accused believes that if they do not participate in the activity, they can be at risk. Therefore, in this instance, it must be proven that the accused only participated in the act of blackmail as a result of coercive threats that they were aiming to avoid.


Depending on the severity of the crime, the matter may be heard at the Local, District or Supreme Court. Regardless of the Court that your particular matter is heard in, our clients can be confident that our criminal defence law firm possess the knowledge and experience to achieve the best outcome possible.

To schedule your first consultation, call Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders now on (02) 9283 3033.