Defense Strategies

Duress/Threats

 

WHEN CAN YOU USE DURESS OR THREATS AS A DEFENSE IN LOS ANGELES?

If you can show that someone actually threatened you or put you in a circumstance where you had to commit a crime in order to prevent some harm from coming to yourself or another, then the duress or threats defense can be used in a Los Angeles court to completely excuse the crime. However, in order to successfully use this defense the threat or duress that is used against the person who commits the crime, must be a credible threat that an ordinary reasonable person would react in the same way under the circumstances you find yourself confronted with.

There are circumstances that can exist where a person is forced to do something they would never do because of a credible threat by another. Most of the time, you see these type of examples played out in the movies versus real life. However, I have seen circumstances where someone was force to do an act they would not normally do because of the threat of another. The police and prosecutors obviously know this defense exists and if they see a situation where someone was legitimately forced to do something because of the circumstances they were placed in by another, the police will not arrest the person who was threatened and the prosecutors will not prosecute them.

It is the situation where someone does something criminal, is caught by the police, tells them they where threatened and the police do not believe them that triggers a criminal filing and the necessity for you to defend yourself with a criminal defense attorney. In this situation, I have the client come in and we go over the story step by step and I will examine whether I believe the prosecutor would find them credible if they knew the story. If I determine, through my many years of defending cases, that the story is believable, is supported by the evidence and makes sense under the circumstance, then I will approach the prosecutors on my client’s behalf and set about convincing them that they are innocent.

CASE LAW RELATED TO THE DEFENSE OF DURESS OR THREATS IN A LOS ANGELES CRIMINAL COURT SETTING

A defendant must show that they acted under a threat against themselves or someone else, placing that person in a reasonable belief of immediate danger if they did not accept a request to commit the crime/crimes they are charged with. The government must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act under duress.

While this defense is usually rare, certain facts can lead a person to committing a crime or illegal act as result of a threat issued by another. When analyzing this defense the court will look to see that the person reasonably believed the threat against themselves or their family was to be true, and reasonable. If there was not a reasonable basis for the fear of the threat, then this defense will not hold. Get in touch with our law firm at (866) 986-2092 or email us using online contact form.