Blackmail. Lesson Objectives. I will be able to state the definition of blackmail I will be able to explain the actus reus and mens rea of blackmail I will be able to explain cases that illustrate the law on blackmail I will be able to apply the rules to a given situation. Introduction.
1) A person is guilty of blackmail if, with a view to gain for himself or another or with intent to cause loss to another, he makes any unwarranted demand with menaces; and for this purpose a demand with menaces is unwarranted unless the person making it does so in the belief-
2) The nature of the act or omission demanded is immaterial, and it is also immaterial whether the menaces relate to action to be taken by the person making the demand
The actus reus of blackmail, therefore, has two aspects:
1 – unwarranted demand
2 – menaces
The mens rea of blackmail has 3 aspects:
1 – an intention to make a demand with menaces
2 – doing so with a view to gain for himself or another or with intent to cause loss to another
3 – either
2. For purposes of this Act –
a) ‘gain’ and ‘loss’ are to be construed as extending only to gain or loss in money or other property, but as extending to any such gain or loss whether temporary or permanent; and –
This means that the intended result of the blackmail involves some money or property rather than something of no monetary value such as a kiss. Things of economic value, such as a morphine injection to get pain relief from a doctor, are sufficient for blackmail – Bevans (1988)
The defendant’s belief as to reasonable grounds for making the demands, and that the use of the menaces is a proper means of reinforcing the demand
The key things about these defences to a charge of blackmail is that the defendant believed there were reasonable grounds for making the demand or believing that the use of menaces is a proper means of reinforcing his demand.
The belief must be genuinely held and can be a moral rather than a legal belief, but a belief that would generally be viewed as immoral is no defence – Harvey (1981)