Duress Defense

Duress Defense

A police officer has just arrested a male defendant for armed bank robbery. At the station, he agrees to speak to the officer without a lawyer present. He confesses to the offense but claims that he was under duress, stating that if he did not carry out the robbery he would be killed. The defendant goes on to say that an old enemy of his from Ecuador wrote him a letter and sent it to his home. The letter stated that the old friend desperately needed $5,000 for an operation, and if the defendant did not rob a bank, he would find a way to travel to New York and kill the defendant and his entire family. Answer the following questions:

a. What problems will the defendant have with the duress defense in this case?

b. What are some additional questions the officer should ask him to find out whether he has a chance at a defense?

c. How might different factual circumstances affect the defendant’s chances of getting acquitted by arguing duress?


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