Blood money is money or some sort of compensation paid by an offender (usually a murderer) or his family group to the family or kin group of the victim.
Blood money is, colloquially, the reward for bringing a criminal to justice. A common meaning in other contexts is the money-penalty paid by a murderer to the kinsfolk of the victim. These fines completely protect the offender (or the kinsfolk thereof) from the vengeance of the injured family. The system was common among the Scandinavian and Teutonic peoples before the introduction of Christianity, and a scale of payments, graduated according to the heinousness of the crime, was fixed by laws, which further settled who could exact the blood-money, and who were entitled to share it. Homicide was not the only crime thus expiable: blood-money could be exacted for all crimes of violence. Some acts, such as killing someone in a church or while asleep, or within the precincts of the royal palace, were “bot-less”; and the death penalty was inflicted. Such a criminal was outlawed, and could be killed on sight.
- In Islamic terms, Qisas can in some cases result in blood money being paid out to the family of victims. The amount varies from country to country and from case to case.
- In Japanese culture it is common to give blood money or mimaikin to a victim’s family. Such was the case with Lucie Blackman’s father who accepted £450,000 as blood money for the murder of his daughter.
- Under the Korean legal system, it is common for those accused of serious crimes such as rape to offer blood money (hapuigeum, 합의금) to the victim, and if accepted then the perpetrator is usually excused further punishment. It is often brokered by the police. Despite being common practice, its use in high-profile cases does sometimes result in protests.
- In the Somali people’s customary law, which they call Xeer (a polycentric legal system developed indigenously), blood money is issued in the event of libel, theft, physical harm, rape and death, as well as to supply assistance to relatives of the injured party.
- In the Christian Bible, the term is used to refer to the thirty pieces of silver Judas Iscariot receives in exchange for revealing the identity of Jesus Christ to the forces sent by the Pharisees and/or the Sanhedrin. After the crucifixion of Christ, Judas returns the payment to the chief priests, who “took the silver pieces and said, ‘It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.’”
- “Shanghaiing” was the practice of the forced conscription of sailors. Boarding masters, whose job it was to find crews for ships, were paid “by the body,” and thus had a strong incentive to place as many seamen on ships as possible. This pay was called blood money.