Threats, blackmail and coertion

Threats, blackmail and coertion

More information

In Spain, the crime of threats consists of a person announcing to another person that he/she is going to cause a harm constituting a crime to him/her or to another person close to him/her.

It is a fundamental requirement that this evil must have the appearance of seriousness, strength and the intention of causing intimidation to the victim. Therefore, the evil must be future, unjust, determined and possible and must depend exclusively on the will of the perpetrator. A lawyer specialized in threats will help you assess whether your case has criminal reach or not.

If the threat is not credible and therefore is not apt to cause fear to the victim, then it would be expressions outside the scope of criminal law and would not be punishable by the Spanish Courts. Similarly, there would be no crime in the expressions of those who threaten to commit suicide after a love breakup.

Threats, blackmail and coertion

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Types of threats and penalties with examples

Our legislation in Spain includes numerous types of threats with different penalties, which we will list below:

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Threat made by demanding

Threat made by demanding an amount or imposing one or more conditions, even if these conditions are not a crime. Example: “I am going to kill you if you do not pay me back the loan”.

       ◦ When the perpetrator achieves his objective: Penalty of 1 to 5 years imprisonment.

       ◦ If the perpetrator does not achieve his objective: Penalty of 6 months to 3 years imprisonment.

      – When the threat consists in receiving a reward in exchange for not publishing or disseminating facts of the private life or family relations of another:

       ◦ When the guilty party achieves his objective: Penalty of 2 to 4 years imprisonment.

       ◦ If the offender does not achieve his objective: Penalty of 4 months to 2 years imprisonment.

Threat made in a non-conditional manner

Threat made in a non-conditional manner. Example: “I am going to kill you.”

        ◦ Penalty of 6 months to 2 years imprisonment.

      ◦ If the guilty party achieves his objective: The penalty shall be higher. That is to say from 6 months to 1 year.

Aggravated threats and special cases

Aggravated threats and special cases.

    – Threats made towards populations, ethnic groups, cultural or religious groups, a collective or any other group of persons will carry penalties higher in degree than the previous ones, i.e. from 2 to 4 years of imprisonment. These are special crimes for which a lawyer specialized in threats is needed.

    – If the threats publicly call for the commission of terrorist acts:

        ◦ Penalty of 6 months to 3 years imprisonment.

Threats in cases of gender violence

Threats in cases of gender violence.

    – These threats also include especially vulnerable persons living with the perpetrator:

        ◦ Prison sentences of 6 months to 1 year or community service of 30 to 180 days.

        ◦ In any case, deprivation of the right to possess and carry weapons from 1 year and a day to 3 years.

        ◦ When the Judge or Court deems it appropriate in the interest of a minor or disabled person who lives with the victim: penalty of special disqualification for the exercise of parental authority, guardianship, conservatorship, guardianship or foster care for up to five years.

        ◦ The penalty shall be imposed in its upper half when the crime is committed in the presence of minors, or takes place in the common domicile or of the victim, or is carried out in breach of a penalty or a precautionary measure.

    – For cases in which slight threats made with weapons or other dangerous instruments:

        ◦ Penalty of 3 months to 1 year imprisonment or, community service from 30 to 180 days.

        ◦ In any case, deprivation of the right to possess and carry weapons from 6 months to 3 years.

        ◦ The penalty shall be imposed in its upper half when the crime is committed in the presence of minors, or takes place in the common domicile or of the victim, or is carried out in breach of a penalty or a precautionary measure.

    – Rest of minor threats in cases of domestic violence:

        ◦ Permanent location from 5 to 30 days, in different domicile and far from the victim’s or works for the benefit of the community from 5 to 30 days or Fine from 1 to 4 months.

For the rest of minor threats

For the rest of minor threats:

        ◦ Fine of 1 to 3 months.

        ◦ The crime may only be prosecuted if the victim denounces.

Blackmail

A special type of threats in Spain is the crime of blackmail, which is regulated in art. 171.2 and consists of demanding from another person an amount or reward under the threat of revealing or disseminating facts concerning his private life or family relations that are not publicly known and may affect his fame, credit or interest.

It is relevant to point out that the data disseminated must be facts of the person’s private life that are not publicly known and that may affect the person’s fame, credit or interest.

An example of blackmail common in jurisprudence are expressions of the type: “if you do not pay me 3,000 euros I will tell your partner that you are cheating on her”.

The penalties would be from 2 to 4 years if the delivery of all or part of what was demanded has been obtained and from 4 months to 2 years if it has not been obtained. Lawyers specialized in blackmail will help you to assess the seriousness of your case.

Finally, art. 171.3 provides for the modality of blackmail when it consists of threatening to reveal or denounce the commission of a crime.

Coercion

Description of the crime and examples

The crime of coercion is included in art. 172 of the Spanish Criminal Code and consists of preventing another person with violence or intimidation to perform any act that the law does not prohibit or to force him to perform something that he does not want, whether or not it is fair.

Usually the examples of coercion that come to mind are those in which the perpetrator forces the victim to perform an act, but other conducts are also understood as coercion crimes, as an example we highlight:

     – Placing a padlock on the access door to a property so that the other co-owners cannot access.

    – Peacefully standing on the train tracks so that the driver has to slow down and stop or cannot start the train.

     – Puncturing the tires of a vehicle so that it cannot travel to its destination.

Types of coercion

As with threats, there are several types of coerci:

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Basic type of coercion

The penalties are imprisonment of six months to three years or a fine of 12 to 24 months, depending on the seriousness of the coercion or the means used. Your solicitor expert in these kind of crimes will asses you about the importance of the case.

Aggravated type of coercion

When the coercion prevents the exercise of a fundamental right, e.g. freedom of movement, freedom of expression, assembly, etc., the penalties to be imposed are one year and nine months to three years imprisonment or a fine of 18 to 24 months.

Minor offense of coercion

The crime of minor coercion is punishable by a fine of one to three months and can only be prosecuted by means of a complaint by the aggrieved person or his legal representative.

The criteria for deciding whether it is a matter of minor or serious coercion is not precisely determined, but depends on the nature of each case and the judge must evaluate the intensity of the violence exercised, the attitude and personality of the subject, the seriousness of the action prevented and other circumstances.

For example, the Supreme Court has considered that the case of a subject who phoned his ex-partner non-stop for a week in order to convince her to return home and then followed her down the street, constitutes only a minor offense since the inconvenience suffered was easily resistible and therefore did not have to return to the house.

Minor coercion of gender violence

In cases where the minor coercion is directed at his wife or ex-wife, whether they had been married or not, the penalties are increased and range from six months to one year of imprisonment or community service of thirty-one to eighty days.

Serious coercion of gender violence

On the other hand, when certain requirements are met in the coercion of domestic violence, the penalty will be imposed in its upper half:

    – When the crime is committed in front of minors.

    – When weapons are used.

    – When the guilty party violates one of the penalties of art. 48.

    – When the crime is committed in the common domicile.

Coercion in real estate

Article 172.1 of the Penal Code states that when the coercion goes so far as to prevent the legitimate enjoyment of the dwelling, a prison sentence of one year and three months to three years imprisonment or a fine of 18 to 24 months will be imposed.

There are landlords or neighbors of the building who use psychological violence to get rid of tenants and make them give up the rent.

In other cases, the opposite situation occurs, in which occupants or tenants who do not comply with the agreed conditions, refuse to leave the dwelling in which they reside, in these cases we would be dealing with a usurpation of property which has penalties of one to two years in the violent version and a fine of three to six months when it is peaceful.

Coercion in the family environment

Article 172.2 states that the victim can only be a woman who is or has been united to the perpetrator by marriage or de facto union. The reason is that Organic Law 1/2004 aims to act against violence that is a manifestation of discrimination of the situation of equality and power relations between a man and a woman.

The penalties are from six months to one year of imprisonment or community service from 31 to 80 days and in any case, deprivation of the right to possess and carry weapons from one year to three years.

Harassment, description, examples and penalties

In Spain, harassment or stalking is also punishable, a conduct known in English as stalking, which consists of continuous telephone calls, follow-ups or any other formula that may seriously harm the victim’s freedom and sense of security, even if it is without violence.

Among the types of harassment we highlight:

  1. a) Watching or pursuing the victim. It is not necessary to have direct contact with the victim, simply harassing or watching from the vicinity is enough.
  2. b) Establishing contact with the victim by any means. The means is indifferent, either traditionally or through RRSS. LINK HERE TO CYBERCRIMES 
  3. c) The improper use of personal data to purchase products or contract services, as occurs with the contracting of telephone or digital services.
  4. d) Attempt against their freedom or assets. This category includes situations of vandalism, e.g. graffiti on the home or car. There are borderline situations such as the famous “debt collector”, who bypasses the legally established channels to achieve the purpose of collecting a debt.

Harassment can only be prosecuted by complaint of the aggrieved party. The penalty to be imposed is from three months to two years or a fine of six months to twenty-four months. If the victim is especially vulnerable due to age, illness or situation, the penalties are increased..

Is coercion justified?

This is a crime with a wide margin of interpretation, in which the judge must evaluate many parameters: the expressions made, the intention, the circumstances of the perpetrator and his personality, the manner of commission, etc. Therefore, there is a wide margin of interpretation and a gray scale of valuation.

A specialized lawyer can help you discern whether you have been the victim of coercion constituting a crime or whether the accusation against you is well founded.

Examples of legitimate coercion would be that of parents towards their children within the pedagogical framework in which they take place, the internment of someone diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder or the imposition of medical treatment.

Olimpa Abogados has partners specialized in threats, coercion, harassment and blackmail, explain us your case and we will give you an answer with the best strategy to follow.

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