Though it does not seem common, there are instances in which someone may be forced to commit a felony offense. As such, the courts have a strict set of guidelines to determine when someone can be held liable for their actions when they are forced into criminal activity or under duress. If you’re unfamiliar with this term, you’ll want to keep reading. You’ll also discover how an Oklahoma City felony defense lawyer can help you during these challenging and uncommon circumstances.
What Are the Elements of Duress?
In order to have a viable defense claim that you were under duress, you must prove that there was an immediate threat of death or severe harm. For example, if someone holds you at gunpoint and forces you to steal a United States Postal Service mail vehicle, this would constitute duress, as there is an immediate threat of violence.
When claiming defense, it’s essential to understand that there must be specific elements at play. This means there must be no other reasonable opportunity for escape. If someone must commit a felony as a means of escaping danger, they may do so as long as there’s no other choice. For example, if someone threatens to beat you up if you don’t leave a bar, this is not grounds for duress. This is because the threat is not imminent and you have the opportunity to avoid harm by leaving. While this may not be fair, it is not duress.
It’s important to understand that there are limitations on when someone can claim duress. For example, if you are held at gunpoint and forced to commit a felony, you may be able to use this defense. However, if you are involved in gang activity and forced to commit a crime, you will likely be unable to use this defense. This is because you have placed yourself in a situation where threats of violence are likely.
Also, duress cannot be used in certain instances, such as murder or other similar crimes.
What Happens if I am Forced to Commit a Felony?
If forced into committing a felony, it’s essential to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Unfortunately, proving duress can be complex, so enlisting the assistance of a skilled lawyer can help improve your chances of illustrating that you were forced into criminal activity.
When threatened with death or serious bodily harm, you understand how terrifying this can be. As such, you may discover you have no options to avoid death other than complying with the threat.
At the Jones Firm, PLLC, we understand how upsetting it can be to be forced into committing a felony offense. As such, we will do everything possible to help you navigate these charges. Contact our firm today to learn how our dedicated team can assist you during these tumultuous times.