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The Sanders Firm, P.C.: Duress Defense

Sometimes a defendant who is charged in a criminal law case says that they acted due to duress. Duress, which involves someone engaging in an illegal activity they normally would not have because they were threatened with bodily harm, is a legitimate defense. Duress may occur in numerous circumstances and if you acted in a criminal manner due to it, then you may have a solid defense.

Defining Duress

The New York Penal Law defines duress in the following manner:

  • 1. In any prosecution for an offense, it is an affirmative defense that the defendant engaged in the proscribed conduct because he was coerced to do so by the use or threatened imminent use of unlawful physical force upon him or a third person, which force or threatened force a person of reasonable firmness in his situation would have been unable to resist.
  • 2. The defense of duress as defined in subdivision one of this section is not available when a person intentionally or recklessly places himself in a situation in which it is probable that he will be subjected to duress.

Thus, if you are threatened with physical force or if physical force was used against you and a person with reasonable resolution would have engaged in the criminal activity as you did, then you may be able to use duress as a defense. However, note that in part two of the penal law that you must not have “intentionally” or “recklessly” put yourself in the situation. That means that if you are someone who is making bad decisions, you may not be able to use duress as a defense.

Were You Under Duress?

At The Sanders Firm, P.C., we believe that it is extremely important that those who use duress as a defense are sure that they did indeed suffer such antagonism and threats. It is essential that such a defense be used only if the criteria for duress are met. Proof of duress will be essential and only those who were truly under duress should use such a defense. If you are someone who normally would be found in situations such as those in, which the crime was perpetrated or if you were reckless in your decision-making, it will be difficult to use the duress defense.

Unsure about your Defense

If you have been charged with a crime, contact The Sanders Firm, P.C. We will review the charges against you, determine if duress or any other such defense applies, and carefully help you decide the best possible path. When dealing with criminal law, defendants need someone who is experienced and knowledgeable. At The Sanders Firm, P.C. we are dedicated to fighting for our clients. Call us and we will be your voice for justice.

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