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Differences Between Blackmail, Bribery, and Extortion

 Posted on January 24, 2024 in Criminal Defense

DuPage County criminal defense lawyerSome people may be confused when they hear the terms blackmail, bribery, and extortion used in a sentence. All of the mentioned terms are generally considered white-collar crimes involving exchanging money, goods, or services. However, understanding their differences may help you further understand what you may be facing when charged with a crime concerning any of these terms. For a deeper understanding of your specific charges, contacting an attorney for a meaningful discussion on where you stand is highly suggested.


When a perpetrator involves another participant in their crime by offering something the participant wants in return for a favor, it is considered bribery. Bribery often consists of one side being in a lower position of power where they convince the participant that the crime will benefit them and ultimately go unnoticed. An example is when a criminal caught in the act attempts to make an offer to the arresting police officer that will see the officer rewarded for letting the criminal off the hook.

Blackmail, Intimidation, and Extortion

When someone blackmails another person or entity, it usually consists of the blackmailer making threats to release incriminating or damaging information concerning the person or entity. The information in question is something that the person or entity does not wish to disclose as it could be embarrassing, disrupt their community or familial standing, or threaten their career.

The information, being real or false, holds no bearing on a charge for blackmail. A prosecutor must prove that the defendant used intimidation or threats that caused a loss for the plaintiff.

Blackmail in Illinois is referred to as intimidation. Intimidation in Illinois is committed when a perpetrator attempts to force another person or entity to perform or omit any act through threatening actions. These threats can include:

  • Inflicting physical harm
  • Physical restraint
  • Boycotting
  • Exposure to hatred or contempt
  • Class A misdemeanor or felony act

Intimidation does not require the defendant to follow through on the threats for a conviction to take place. The prosecution only needs to prove the defendant threatened the plaintiff in an intimidating manner.

Extortion is intimidation that results in theft. When a person obtains control over the property of another through threats of intimidation, they will have committed extortion. Extortion is often charged as a theft under Illinois law and punishable from anywhere between a Class A misdemeanor up to a Class X felony.

Contact a DuPage County, IL Criminal Defense Attorney

Understanding the differences between the terms and what punishments they carry can help in your defense. A savvy and experienced Naperville, IL extortion defense lawyer can save you some trouble answering any questions you may have concerning your case. For a free consultation to discuss defense strategies, give the Law Office of Philip R. Nathe at 630-416-7600 right now.

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