Legal Defence from our Lawyers
Our criminal defence lawyers provide specialised assistance to individuals facing accusations of blackmail. We offer expert guidance throughout the legal process based on our deep understanding of the legal nuances surrounding blackmail cases in Germany. Our lawyers meticulously assess the evidence, devise a robust defence strategy, and ensure clients’ rights are upheld at every stage.
Our lawyers are highly skilled in negotiation and trial representation. They will work tirelessly to challenge the prosecution’s case, cross-examine witnesses, and present evidence that supports the client’s innocence. In criminal trials, it is essential to be aware of court procedures and what a person should expect when facing a trial. Such experience will ensure that your rights are protected, your voice is heard, and you receive a fair and just legal process.
In short, our lawyers are available from the start to offer:
- Legal expertise and case evaluation,
- Strategic planning based on the unique circumstances of your case,
- Protection of your rights during the case and the investigation stages,
- Negotiation expertise in plea bargains and settlements,
- Representation during the trial,
- Mitigation strategies to seek lenient sentences in case of a conviction,
- Advise you on the appeal process.
However, our lawyers’ expertise is not limited to the courtroom, as we also offer emotional support and a sense of assurance during a challenging and uncertain time. Our clients can be assured that the S&E team will strive to achieve the best possible outcome for their clients facing blackmail accusations.
Blackmail and Extortion under German Law
Blackmail under German law is defined by § 253 StGB (German Criminal Code), and it states the following:
(1) Whoever unlawfully, by force or threat of serious harm, coerces a person to do, acquiesce to or refrain from an act, and thereby damages that person’s or another’s assets for the purpose of wrongful personal enrichment or enrichment of a third party, incurs a penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or a fine.
(2) The act is unlawful if the use of force or the threat of harm is deemed reprehensible in respect of the desired objective.
(3) The attempt is punishable.
(4) In especially serious cases, the penalty is imprisonment for a term of at least one year. An especially serious case typically occurs where the offender acts on a commercial basis or as a member of a gang whose purpose is the continued commission of extortion.
From this definition, we can see that blackmail/extortion concerns the blackmailer coercing the victim to perform actions (or not perform/inactions), refers to the enrichment of the blackmailer or a third party by the act of blackmail/extortion and also refers to the attempt of the action. Therefore, the action of blackmail doesn’t need to be successful for a case to be brought against a person.
Should the coercion take the form of force or violence, that is illegal under § 255 StGB.
In essence, for an act to be considered blackmail under German law, it must involve a threat to accuse the victim of a criminal offence or to reveal damaging information about them or a third party, with the intention of compelling the victim to act against their will.
It’s essential to note that legal interpretations can vary, and specific details of a case can influence whether it falls under the definition of blackmail.
Consequences of Blackmail in Germany
In Germany, the potential penalties for a conviction of blackmail (Erpressung) can vary based on the offence’s severity, the case’s specific circumstances, and the offender’s criminal history. The German Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch, StGB) outlines the penalties, specifically in § 253 StGB.
Here are the potential penalties for a conviction of blackmail under German law:
- Imprisonment: A person convicted of blackmail can face imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years. The exact length of incarceration depends on the severity of the offence.
- Fine: In addition to or instead of imprisonment, a fine may be imposed. The fine amount can vary based on the offender’s financial situation and the severity of the offence.
Notably, penalties can change based on legislative updates, court decisions, and other factors. Additionally, aggravating circumstances, such as the use of violence, the involvement of a criminal organization, or the exploitation of a vulnerable victim, could lead to more severe penalties.
Forms of Blackmail
Although blackmail and extortion are criminal actions with long histories, the form they take has developed alongside technology. The internet, smartphones and technology generally have changed the face of blackmail. With the increased access to devices with video recording, audio recording and photography, it has never been easier to accumulate compromising information on other people. Beware of recording compromising videos and taking such photos of yourself, as they can be used later in extortion cases.
Internet scams are common as corrupting viruses, links to child pornography and much more can quickly be sent out to users. Those involved can then request cash payments or other actions to unlock your computer or permanently delete what they have sent. Consult with a legal professional if you find yourself in a difficult situation due to such activities.
Please learn more about Cybercrime in Germany by reading our article on the topic.