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Is it illegal in the State of Washington to Blackmail a person?

Lynnwood, WA |

If it is a crime how do I prove it and what is the punishment for it?

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Attorney answers 3


In Washington it is illegal knowingly to obtain or attempt to obtain by threat property or services of the owner. See RCW 9A.56.110. Extortion and blackmail are closely related topics. There is no clear definition of the difference, but a common distinction made is that blackmail is a form of extortion that threatens to reveal embarrassing, disgraceful or damaging information about a person to the public, family, spouse or associates unless money is paid to purchase silence.

RCW 9A.56.120 Extortion in the first degree.-
(1) A person is guilty of extortion in the first degree if he or she commits extortion by means of a threat as defined in RCW 9A.04.110(27) (a), (b), or (c).
(2) Extortion in the first degree is a class B felony.

RCW 9A.56.130 Extortion in the second degree.-
(1) A person is guilty of extortion in the second degree if he or she commits extortion by means of a wrongful threat as defined in *RCW 9A.04.110(25) (d) through (j)
(2) In any prosecution under this section based on a threat to accuse any person of a crime or cause criminal charges to be instituted against any person, it is a defense that the actor reasonably believed the threatened criminal charge to be true and that his or her sole purpose was to compel or induce the person threatened to take reasonable action to make good the wrong which was the subject of such threatened criminal charge.
(3) Extortion in the second degree is a class C felony.

You do not prove a criminal case, the government does. The more information you can give the government prosecutor, the more likely it is that they will take your case and will win your case. You should talk to a criminal attorney for more specific advice, or the local police or the local prosecutor’s office to determine what is specifically needed in your case.

This answer is not intended to be a substitute for personalized legal advice. I have presented only an overview of the legal issues. There are many nuances and some exceptions to general legal principles. Real problems are very fact based.. If you have a specific legal problem, you should consult an attorney. You can find more useful information on my law firm website resources page at or you can contact me directly at or (206) 524-0655.


It is illegal in every state. Report it to the local authorities. It is up to them whether to prosecute.


It is a crime everywhere. Contact the police.

Legal Disclaimer:

If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

This ans. does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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