Both duress and necessity are defenses that can be used in criminal cases. However, in cases of necessity, there is usually a choice between two evils. In the cases of duress, which we will discuss today, a defendant will act unlawfully in order to avoid a threat of immediate harm to themselves. Duress is much different because it arises from the actions of other people, such as a case where someone is forced to commit a crime because they are being held at gunpoint. There are several elements involved in a case of duress: threat of serious bodily harm, an immediate or imminent threat, a reasonable fear in the defendant, and no reasonable means for the defendant to escape the situation.
Explanation of the Elements
Threat of Harm: Did you experience a threat or bodily harm at the hands of another? Did the perpetrator threaten to kill or hurt your spouse, child, or another significant other? The threat of harm can be conveyed in many different ways and may lead to a viable defense in your case. In the case of duress, you must have been threatened in such a way that you would have been injured if you didn’t comply.
Reasonable Fear: You must have had a reasonable and objective fear that the threat would play out and you could be injured or lose your life. This is where things become a bit skewed, because depending on the threat, it can be taken different ways in the eyes of various people.
No Means of Escape: If you had no reasonable means of escaping the situation and could have been hurt or lost your life, you may be able to use this defense. In cases where you were unable to leave the scene or avoid the situation whatsoever, you have a claim.
We are experienced in many different defenses in a variety of criminal cases. Because of this, if you have been charged with a crime and believe that you have a viable defense, you should call us today. We will give you more information on what to expect and how we can be of assistance.