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I was just reading something from the New Yorker magazine which stated:

“Paying hush money is not a crime under New York state law,” Mark Pomerantz, a lawyer who worked in the D.A.’s office, wrote, in “People vs. Donald Trump,” an insider account of the office’s investigation of the former President..

So my question is, in which US state(s) is paying hush money considered illegal?

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    – Dale M
    Apr 19 at 20:48

1 Answer 1

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"Hush money" is just tabloid-speak for a non-disclosure agreement, which is generally legal throughout the United States -- or, for the money paid in exchange for the non-disclosure agreement.

There are some exceptions, like the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, which limits the enforceability of NDAs regarding sexual harassment.

And while an NDA may limit you from voluntarily providing information to the police, it cannot limit you from answering truthfully when under oath, i.e., when you are ordered to answer by a court or a subpoena issued by a court.

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    Isn't the distinction that 'hush money ' is money paid in exchange for an NDA, rather than an NDA in general? I was under an NDA a while back but wasn't paid for it, so it wouldn't count as hush money. (Which doesn't change the fact that paying someone to sign an NDA remains legal as well, of course.) Apr 18 at 13:37
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    @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas Good point. There has to be some kind of consideration given in exchange for the NDA, whether it's money, a job opportunity, or simply keeping the job you have. Every enforceable NDA must involve some kind of "hush consideration", otherwise it's not a contract. Apr 18 at 13:54
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    @NuclearHoagie The difference is usually that non-disclosure tends to be necessay for the exchange. E.g. exployees would be working against the interests of their employer if they divulge proprietary information to competitors. It's called "hush money" when the only consideration is money for silence.
    – Barmar
    Apr 18 at 14:28
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    Interesting. Could I get around an NDA that I wanted to break without penalty by asking to be put under oath and have someone ask me relevant questions until they work out what I can't say? Apr 18 at 16:55
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    Strictly speaking, an NDA cannot prevent you from testifying when you are ordered by a court or a subpoena issued by a court, to do so, and while this almost always happens while you are under oath, the fact that the statement is made under oath, per se, is not actually relevant.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 18 at 18:56

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