Blackmail Case Study

1408 Words 6 Pages
This scenario involves two parties, David and Theresa, in which Theresa is a potential Defendant. She is to be advised regarding two legal issues: whether she has a potential criminal liability for blackmail by threatening David into giving her the money she believes she is owed, and whether Theresa has a potential criminal liability for theft by taking the letter from David’s home.

With regards to the issue of potential criminal liability for blackmail by threatening David when demanding the money that she believed she was owed, the relevant statutory law is Section 21 of the Theft Act 1968, which states that the criminal offence of blackmail consists of making an unwarranted demand with menaces, which is the actus reus, with a view to making
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So, was Theresa’s demand reasonable? Based on this understanding, Theresa’s demand for £25, 000 to ‘get back at’ David and recoup part of the money she believed she was owed, is unreasonable because based on the facts, there was no legal or contractual obligation for David to let Theresa’s kids onto his show anyway, and it is morally wrong to extort money from him.
Addressing (b), the case of R v Clear [1968] is good authority regarding the issue of menaces. It established a test as to what constitutes a menace; it must be a threat of such a nature and extent that the mind of an ordinary person of normal stability and courage might be influenced or made apprehensive to accede unwillingly to the demand. It is stated in the facts that David’s reputation as a respectable family man makes him extremely popular with the show’s producers and many fans. Selling the letter to that exposes his affair would tarnish his reputation significantly, with a high probability of him losing his family, a significant proportion of his fan base, and his source of income. The sheer magnitude of potential loss would influence anyone in David’s position, and make him unwillingly agree to the
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If so (b) must the accused have realised that what he was doing was, by those standards, dishonest (the subjective test)? Applying this to Theresa’s situation, yes, pocketing the letter without David’s expressed or implied permission, or knowledge, was dishonest. The fact that she is one of David’s oldest and most trusted friends exacerbates this. In terms of the subjective test, Theresa must have realized that what she was doing is dishonest, seeing as she viewed her possession of the letter as a chance to ‘get back at’ David by using it to threaten him. As for the appropriation of property belonging to another, the letter clearly belonged to David, and just because she was given unlimited access to David’s estate does not mean that she was at liberty to assume the right of keeping or dealing with the letter as the new owner, for her own benefit without David’s

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