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Duress

Duress

Examine the common law and Model Penal Code approaches to the defense of duress, in which a defendant may avoid liability if he committed a criminal act only after being threatened, usually with death or serious bodily harm.

Transcript

Our discussion of excuses begins with duress. Duress used to be considered a justification, but modern jurisprudence now tends to categorize it as an excuse.

Under the common law, the defense of duress is available if: First, there is a threat of unlawful force—usually death or serious bodily harm. Second, the threat comes from a person. Third, the threat is made to a person, either the defendant or a third party. Fourth, the threat is imminent. Fifth, the defendant reasonably believes that...

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