New York Blackmail is a called extortion. Extortion is a crime that involves threats to obtain property from another person by instilling fear in another individual that you will expose a secret or engage in another harmful course of conduct against them. While frequently, the property is money, that is not always the case. Similarly, if you compel someone to do something by making a threat (rather than to give you something of value), that crime is called coercion.

New York Blackmail Charges Explained

The definition of extortion, the legal term for blackmail is contained in New York Penal Law 155.05(2)(e). Simply put, extortion is compelling or inducing a person to deliver property to himself or a their person by instilling a fear that if the property is not delivered, the bad actor or a third person will:

  • Cause physical injury to some person in the future;  
  • Cause damage to property;  
  • Engage in other conduct constituting a crime;  
  • Accuse some person of a crime or cause criminal charges to be instituted against him;  
  • Expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject some person to hatred, contempt or ridicule;  
  • Cause a strike, boycott or other collective labor group action injurious to some person’s business;  except that such a threat shall not be deemed extortion when the property is demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;  
  • Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense;  
  • Use or abuse his position as a public servant by performing some act within or related to his official duties, or by failing or refusing to perform an official duty, in such manner as to affect some person adversely;  
  • Perform any other act which would not in itself materially benefit the actor but which is calculated to harm another person materially with respect to his health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships.

New York Extortion charges are codified in the New York Grand Larceny criminal statutes. That is because there is a special legal provision in those statutes relating to Grand Larceny by Extortion. Grand Larceny by Extortion charges are felonies and can result in substantial jail time.

Four Degrees of Grand Larceny

Under New York Law, there are four degrees of Grand Larceny. They are:

  • Grand Larceny in the First Degree,
  • Grand Larceny in the Second Degree,
  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, AND
  • Grand Larceny in the First Degree.

The degree of the Grand Larceny that is charged depends on the value of the items obtained by extortion or blackmail.

New York Blackmail as Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree

The lowest level of Grand Larceny is larceny in the fourth degree. This charge applies to blackmail or extortion, regardless of the value of the item. This charge is codified in New York Penal Law 155.30(6).

Penalties for Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree

In New York State, theft by Extortion is always a class “E” non-violent felony with a potential sentence of up to four years in prison. This charge can also be resolved without any jail time – through a conditional discharge or even probation.

New York Blackmail as Grand Larceny in the Third Degree

When the value of the items extorted exceeds $3,000, the blackmailer can be charged with New York Grand Larceny in the Third Degree. This charge is codified in New York Penal Law Section 155.35(1).

Penalties for Grand Larceny in the Third Degree

Under New York Law, Grand Larceny in the Third Degree is a class “D” non-violent felony. It is punishable by up to seven years in prison. This charge can also be resolved with a non-jail disposition such as through a conditional discharge or probation.

New York Blackmail as Grand Larceny in the Second Degree

A person can be prosecuted for blackmail under the Grand Larceny in the Second Degree statute, when the items are obtained by a threat to someone’s property, someone’s well being or by a public servant engaging in conduct relating to his public duties. This charge is codified in New York Penal Law Section 155.40(2).

Penalties for Grand Larceny in the Second Degree

This charge is punishable by a minimum of 1 to 3 years prison, and a maximum of 5 to 15 years incarceration for first time offenders.

New York Blackmail as Grand Larceny in the First Degree

Extortion which results in a loss amount of $1,000,000 or more will result be charged as a Grand Larceny in the First Degree, which is the most serious of New York Grand Larceny charges. This charge is codified in New York Penal Law Section 155.42.

Penalties for Grand Larceny in the First Degree

Grand Larceny in the First Degree is a Class “B” non-violent felony. As such, it is punishable by a maximum of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.

The following table shows the penalities for each larceny degree in New York.

Larceny DegreeValue of PropertyCrime ClassMax Prison (1st Offense)
Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree Penal Law Section 155.40More than $1,000 to $ 3,000Class E Felony1 1/3 to 4 years(jail is not mandatory)
Grand Larceny in the Third Degree Penal Law Section 155.35More than $3,000 to $ 50,000Class D Felony2 1/3 to 7 years(jail is not mandatory)
Grand Larceny in the Second Degree Penal Law Section 155.40More than $50,000 to $ 1,000,000Class C Felony5 to 15 years(jail is not mandatory)
Grand Larceny in the First Degree Penal Law Section 155.42More than $1,000,000Class B Felony8 1/3 to 25 years(jail is not mandatory)
New York Blackmail Penalties

Is Blackmail Prosecuted Under New York State or Federal Law?

Blackmail is a crime under both New York State as well as federal law. Both New York State Prosecutors and U.S. Attorneys Offices prosecute blackmail cases either in state or federal courts.

What are Possible Defenses for New York Blackmail Charges?

Each blackmail case requires a thorough assessment by a criminal defense attorney. Some common defenses on blackmail or extortion cases:

  • No extortion-like threat was made,
  • No intent to obtain or attempt to obtain property by making the threat,
  • No property obtained as a result of the threat.

What are some Blackmail examples?

Most common examples of blackmail are:

  • Threatening to reveal an extramarital affair unless payment is received;
  • Demanding ransom for hacking and stealing a corporation’s files and consumer data;
  • Withholding the issuance of permits as a government employee unless a bribe is paid.

Contact Top Rated New York Blackmail Defense Attorneys

If you or your loved one is under investigation or have been arrested for blackmail, you need top rated New York criminal defense attorneys. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.