If you have been charged with a crime but that crime took place under duress, you may find that it is hard to use this defense. There are many elements involved in a duress case, including force and coercion. Duress is the use of force, false imprisonment, threats, or psychological pressure and abuse that pushes someone into committing a certain act. When the crime took place, you may have known that you didn’t want to take part in it, but when duress occurs, what is in your best interest doesn’t matter anymore. All you can think about is how you’re going to save your own life or well-being.
For example, take a look at this case: Linda is driving along when out of nowhere, she sees a lost hitchhiker on the side of the road. She picks him up and he turns out to be a bank robber who just wanted a getaway car. He makes Linda drive to the bank and tells her that if she doesn’t wait for him to get out, he’ll have someone kill her. Because Linda is scared for her life, she does what he says and ends up being a getaway driver in a bank robbery. This is a case of duress because he used force tactics and threats to involve her in the crime.
Was There a Threat?
For a duress case to hold, there had to have been a threat. Without a threat of some violence or action, you will not be able to use this as a defense in your case. If there was a threat, the defendant (you, in this case) must have believed that it was actually real and that you would have been harmed if you did not abide. There must have been no means of escaping as well. For instance, let’s return to the case involving Linda. Perhaps the hitchhiker pointed a gun at her and had somebody watch to make sure she didn’t drive away. You had to have a reasonable fear that your life could be taken for a duress defense to hold.
If you have been charged with a crime but force was used against you or your life was threatened in some way, you may be able to use duress as a defense. We can help you if you have received charges and don’t believe they should hold. Call us today.