What is the legal concept of “duress”?
In some legal situations, duress may excuse a person’s committing of what otherwise would be a criminal offense. Duress is a form of coercion. It is constraint illegally exercised to force someone to perform an act.
Massachusetts’s law holds that free will is essential to the commission of a criminal act, so therefore a person may NOT be found GUILTY for an act which he or she committed under duress.
If evidence of duress is present, a defendant should be found NOT GUILTY unless the Commonwealth proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did in fact commit the offense, and also that the defendant did NOT act under duress.
Are “necessity” and “duress” legally the same?
NO, necessity and duress are NOT legally the same.While both are legal defenses, necessity is the defense a person pleads when circumstances force a person to perform a criminal act. Duress, or coercion, applies when human beings force one another to take action.
How does the Commonwealth prove a defendant did NOT act under duress?
To prove that a defendant did NOT act under duress, the Commonwealth must prove ONE of the following three items beyond a reasonable doubt (ONE OR MORE):
In summary, if there is evidence of duress, it is the burden of the Commonwealth to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did in fact commit the offense in question AND to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that one or more of the above factors were NOT present.
When is the defense of duress NOT available to a defendant?
The legal defense of duress is NOT available to a defendant in the following circumstances (ONE OR BOTH):
What does the law say on the issue of duress when evidence of an abusive relationship exists?
When the issue of duress is relevant to a case involving an abusive relationship, a defendant is permitted to introduce either or both of the following in establishing the reasonableness of the defendant’s (ONE OR MORE):
…which include (EITHER OR BOTH):
Is the duress defense applicable to threats of harm to third parties?
YES, the duress defense is applicable to threats of harm to third parties.
IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH A CRIME AND YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER WORKING ON YOUR SIDE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, PLEASE CONTACT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY WILLIAM J. BARABINO.
CALL 781-393-5900 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR AVAILABLE DEFENSES.