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NJ Legislature Passes a Law Making “Sextortion” a Crime

Red sextortion key on keyboard

The internet has become an efficient means of carrying out criminal activity, including extortion. When Threatening to disclose sexual images or videos in order to obtain sexual favors from a victim has been known informally as “sextortion.” Now, New Jersey is adding that crime to the statutes.

Following the lead of some other states, New Jersey’s legislature has passed a bill creating the crime of sexual extortion. It is defined as using sexually explicit images or videos of the victim or of any other person for the purpose of coercing the victim into engaging in sexual activity. It also includes threatening to do harm to the victim or to another person, or to their property or reputation. A threat alone is sufficient to support a conviction, whether or not the material is actually released to the public or any other harm has been done.

The new crime is different from traditional extortion, which is a demand for cash or valuables, services or other property or actions. in exchange for — among other things — keeping confidential information private. For example, an extortionist might demand that the victim undertake a dangerous or risky act, such as delivering illegal drugs. The distinguishing element of sextortion is that it seeks to have the victim participate in some type of sexual activity. However, the new law also applies if the purpose of the threat is to have the victim produce sexually explicit images or videos of themselves or of any other person.

The sextortion bill, which unanimously passed both houses of the state legislature, is awaiting the Office of Legislative Services’ estimate of the fiscal costs of its enforcement. The bill then goes to the governor for his signature, which appears to be a certainty.

Sextortion in New Jersey will carry stiff penalties. A conviction can result in a sentence of three to five years in prison, plus a fine not to exceed $15,000. The penalties are even greater when the victim is a minor or is developmentally disabled. As a result, anyone being investigated for such a crime should take the allegations seriously, and consult an experienced cyber-harassment defense attorney as soon as possible.

With four offices around the major metropolitan areas of New Jersey, the Law Offices of David Jay Glassman is one of the most respected criminal defense firms in the state. If you are facing any type of criminal charges, please contact us online or call 866-221-1270 for a consultation.