Pennsylvania has a rich cultural scene in both its cities and smaller towns. From Philadelphia’s Italian Market to Pittsburgh’s thriving music community, visitors can discover small businesses, delicious ethnic cuisine, and unique art galleries. But beneath these alluring cities, conceals the rising reports of blackmail. But is Blackmail a crime in Pennsylvania? Find out all that and more next.
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Is Blackmail a Crime in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, blackmail is considered a crime under the state’s extortion laws. Extortion is defined as the use of force or threats to obtain something from another person. Blackmail falls under this definition as it involves threatening to reveal embarrassing or damaging information about an individual to coerce them into doing something against their will. Blackmail is a very serious criminal offense, if you are facing this, your next steps are crucial.
Blackmail Laws in Pennsylvania
Under the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes or 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. section 3923 et. seq. blackmail falls under the crime of extortion. Extortion is a felony, punishable by up to 7 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. If the victim is 60 years of age or older, the charge will increase to a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
In Pennsylvania, extortion is a theft-related offense. A person commits theft by extortion when he or she “intentionally obtains or withholds property of another” by making one of several threats specified in the statute. Specifically, the person must threaten to:
- Commit another crime.
- Accuse another person of a crime.
- Expose any secret tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule.
- take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action.
- Bring about or continue a strike, boycott, or other collective unofficial action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group the person purports to represent.
- Testify or provide information, or withhold testimony or information, concerning another person’s legal claim or defense.
- Inflict any other harm which would not benefit the person making the threat.
It must be demonstrated that the defendant’s actions were threatening when they committed the theft by extortion crime; furthermore, these actions must be causally related to the victim’s surrender of property.
What to Do If You Are a Victim of a Pennsylvania Blackmail?
If you are a victim of blackmail in Pennsylvania, it is important to take immediate action to protect yourself. Here are a few steps you can take:
- Contact the police: Report internet blackmail to the local police department as soon as possible. They will be able to investigate the matter and gather evidence to support your case.
- Save all evidence: Keep any emails, text messages, or other forms of communication that the blackmailer has sent to you. This will be crucial evidence in the case against them.
- Don’t pay the blackmailer: It is important not to give in to the demands of the blackmailer, as this will only encourage them to continue their criminal behavior.
- Seek legal advice: Consult with a criminal defense attorney to understand your rights and the legal options available to you.
- Take care of yourself: Blackmail can be a traumatic experience. Seek support from friends, family, or a counselor to help you cope with the stress and emotional fallout.
It is clear that blackmail is a serious offense in Pennsylvania, with potentially stiff penalties including jail time and hefty fines. Everyone should be aware of how state laws criminalize this immoral behavior and should avoid engaging in any activities that could open themselves up to prosecution. Is blackmail a crime in Pennsylvania? The answer is unequivocally, yes! Armed with this information, it’s now up to you to decide what role – whatever your legal standing – you want to play in the fight against criminalizing blackmail.