Criminal Defense: A Closer Look At Claiming Duress In A Trial

When you have been charged with a criminal defense, the basic process involves hiring an attorney, determining the exact charges, and coming up with a plan of action to fight those charges in a court of law. There are various routes of defense that can be taken in order to prove your innocence, including mental  or emotional incompetence, intoxication, mistake of fact, self defense, or even legal duty.

One of the lesser known criminal defense ideas is claiming duress:

Just What Does Claiming You Were Under Duress Mean?

In simple terms, claiming duress means that you committed a crime because you were forced into the unlawful act by unethical pressure and felt that had no other choice. A person who is under duress may act in a way that they would never act otherwise.

Coercion is another term used to describe duress. You would be considered under duress because someone threatened your personal safety, the safety of your family, or some other eminent harm if you did not do what they asked.

Understanding the Liability in Claiming Duress

If you admit that you acted under duress in a crime, you are stating that you did commit the crime, but you only did so because of the threat that was in place. therefore, you will be taking some of the liability for what has occurred. Courts will treat each claim of duress differently depending on the nature of the crime and other factors, such as race, gender, and sexuality, may play a role in the effectiveness of this claim.

When Duress Would Not Be Feasible

Duress cannot be claimed if you made a choice about the actions taken due to the coercion of another party. For example, if someone threatens you because you owe them money and you rob someone to pay them back, you made the choice to commit the crime.

However, if someone threatens your life if you do not rob someone and pay them back, this would be considered acting under duress.  There must be a specific demand made to commit a certain crime before claiming that you acted under duress will be a logical decision in criminal defense.

When you have been charged with a crime, it is important to know what types of defense can be used to help prove your innocence in the situation. If you feel that you acted under duress in committing a crime, it is imperative that you talk to your attorney about what your options may be in the court proceeding.

For more information, contact a professional like James S. Dostal with any questions or concerns you might have.