You cannot be found guilty of a crime if you acted under Duress. A person acts under duress if, because of a threat or menace, you believed that you or someone else’s life would be in immediate danger if you refused a demand or request to commit the crimes.
For example, a person tells you that your family has been kidnapped, and if you do not rob a specific bank, they will be killed. They then show you pictures of your family in distress. Here, you thought your family was in imminent fear of death if you failed to follow the directions of the kidnappers.
Further, the demand or request may have been express or implied. This means it could be verbalized to you through words, or implied through a person’s actions.
The belief that you or someone else’s life was in immediate danger must have been reasonable. You would need more information, such as a gun pointed at your face, for example, to show the reasonableness of the demand. If someone simply says they are going to kill you, with nothing else added, such as a weapon, or anything to cause you to be in a real genuine danger, then duress likely cannot be used as a defense for you.
A threat of future harm is not sufficient; the danger to life must have been immediate to you at the time you committed the crime. The common example is that a person tells you to rob a bank today, or else you will be killed tomorrow, or at some future date. Because the threat is not immediate to you, duress cannot be a defense.
Duress does not apply to murder cases. However, it can assist in attacking potential elements, such as your mental state to commit the crime, although not a complete defense.
For more information on the defense of duress, call Ontario Criminal Defense attorney Adam Jackson today for a free consultation and free case evaluation. Call today at 909-939-7126. Located in Ontario, CA.