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What is Blood Money?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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The term “blood money” can have a number of meanings, all related to ill-gotten gains from the death of another human being. In criminal law, it refers specifically to money paid to a killer in exchange for executing a contract to kill another person. People can also use this term to discuss money paid to the survivors of a person who has died as a reparation, and in many nations, the civil legal system provides mechanisms for claiming damages from killers or people legally responsible for a death, even if those funds are not known specifically as blood money.

Contract killing is a practice with a long history; people may hire killers for a variety of reasons, ranging from not wanting to be personally responsible for a murder to wanting to set up plausible deniability because they intend to profit from the death. In situations where people hire killers, both the killer and the employer are legally liable for the death and may go to jail for the crime if a court has enough evidence to reach a conviction.

Making and receiving payments of blood money is illegal. People can use a variety of techniques to launder such payments with the goal of making them difficult to track. Payment in cash is one option, as are tactics like running money through a business to make it look like a legitimate payment for legal services. One advantage of this method is that, if done properly, it will not attract the attention of tax officials, who tend to be on the alert for movements of large sums of money because they want their share.

The amount of blood money available usually depends on the target, the region, and the nature of the job. For a high profile killing where the killer may need to exercise considerable skill to successfully reach the victim and complete the contract, the sum may be quite large. In a poverty-stricken community, a person may be able to find someone to complete a killing for a relatively small sum, because people may be desperate for work of any kind, including criminal activity.

When people are caught and convicted of involvement in contract killings, the government may be able to seize the blood money, along with other assets connected to criminal activity. The law depends on the nation and the nature of the case. These seized assets become the property of the government and it can sell them or use them to fund its own activities. Some governments may use the assets to establish a reparations fund, allowing people to apply to the fund for monetary compensation for the deaths of loved ones.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a MyLawQuestions researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon231028 — On Nov 22, 2011

If anybody has something to add with regards to blood money with old German law, please tell me about it.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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