What Is the Coerce and Duress Defense

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There are a number of defenses used by defendants and their attorneys to prove their innocence and protect their rights, with some of the most publicized being an “insanity defense” or “self-defense claims”. But another is known as “coerce and duress defense”. 

What Is a Coerce and Duress Defense?

Coercion and duress is a criminal defense which generally states that an individual was forced to commit a crime because they felt threatened with unlawful force. This unlawful force does not need to actually occur. Just the threat of it is enough to satisfy a coercion defense. The threat also does not need to be against the accused individual. It can be against a family member, such as the accused person’s parent or child.

The Many Elements of Duress

Though what may or may not constitute “duress” varies depending on each scenario, many have the same three elements: 

  • There is an immediate threat of serious bodily injury or death
  • The victim has a reasonable fear that someone will carry out the threat that has been issued
  • The victim has no reasonable opportunity to escape, other than by committing the unlawful act of which they are being accused

Limitations to This Claim of Defense

Not everyone can claim coercion and duress. There are limitations, and these vary from state to state or jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, some states accept a coerce and duress defense for murder, while others do not.

Generally speaking, this type of defense cannot be invoked if a defendant’s reckless actions placed them in the situation that caused duress.

The Importance of an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney 

At the law offices of Keith Bregoff, PA, we treat every individual who requires legal help and guidance with compassion and understanding. Our experience in prosecution and defense has given us enhanced insights into what it takes to build a credible and strong defense for anyone accused of a crime.

We invite you to schedule a free consultation online or call us today at (772) 492-8967.