We have vacation rental property that we rent on a weekly basis. We just rented it to a family that had a lot of unreasonable demands. We sent a cleaning crew 3 times to the property to satisfy every demand they had. We also sent them several emails asking if they needed anything else, until they finally told us in a phone conversation that they were happy. They spent their week of vacation in our house. After their departure, we received an email from them demanding full refund for their vacation and threatening us to discredit our property. This is the quote from their email: "At this time, I am requesting a total refund $6083.00. Should you honor this request, all of this information, including the disc of pictures, will be destroyed. I await your response. " We understand that this is blackmail. We informed them that we will file criminal complaint if they continue to blackmail us. There response was that they have freedom of speach and they were going to publish negative information about our property. How do we proceed from this and how do we file criminal complaint?
Thank you for your question today. I appreciate your patience while I responded to you.
As to the criminal complaint, you would have to file a report with the police so they could investigate your claim. From there, it would be up to them to decide whether said party should be arrested and the file given to the prosecutor who ultimately is the one to decide whether charges should be filed. This does seem to meet the definition of extortion under Delaware law:
§ 846. Extortion; class E felony.
A person commits extortion when, with the intent prescribed in § 841 of this title, the person compels or induces another person to deliver property to the person or to a third person by means of instilling in the victim a fear that, if the property is not so delivered, the defendant or another will:
(1) Cause physical injury to anyone; or
(2) Cause damage to property; or
(3) Engage in other conduct constituting a crime; or
(4) Accuse anyone of a crime or cause criminal charges to be instituted against anyone; or
(5) Expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject anyone to hatred, contempt or ridicule; or
(6) Falsely testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another's legal claim or defense; or
(7) Use or abuse the defendant's position as a public servant by performing some act within or related to the defendant's official duties, or by failing or refusing to perform an official duty, in such manner as to affect some person adversely; or
(8) Perform any other act which is calculated to harm another person materially with respect to the person's health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships.
Extortion is a class E felony, except where the victim is a person 62 years of age or older, in which case any violation of this section shall be a class D felony.
Additionally, if you find that they have published false statements about your property, you may also have a civil claim for defamation. While it's true that a person has freedom of speech and the right to express opinion, they cannot negligently or intentionally make false statements about individuals or a business as that can be considered defamatory.
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