Duress is a complete defence to all criminal charges. Duress is a complicated area of the law and difficult defence to raise. If you intend to rely on the defence of duress our criminal lawyers can advise you on the intricacies of the defence to give you the best chance of raising it successfully. 

What is duress?

You will have acted under duress and therefore involuntarily, if your actions were performed because of threats (express or implied) of death or really serious injury. The threats to you need to be of such a nature that a person of ordinary firmness and strength of will would have yielded to them if placed in the same position as you. The ordinary person is a person of the same maturity and sex as you.

What is the legal test for duress?

To legal test to raise defence is:

  1. The making of an actual threat against you;
  2. The nature of the threat being of death or serious injury to you or your family;
  3. The threat being of such gravity that a person of ordinary firmness of mind and will, and of the same sex and maturity as you, would have yielded to the threat in the way that you did;
  4. That you acted as you did because of the threat which was still acting on your mind at the time of the criminal act.
  5. For the threat to be effective it must be continuing. A threat will not be continuing and effective if you had a reasonable opportunity to render the threat ineffective.

Reasonable doubt

The police must establish that your acts were done voluntarily and must eliminate any reasonable possibility that you acted under duress.

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