Don’t Diss Duress

Written by admin
January 3rd, 2019

As time’s gone by, the perceived wisdom is that it is harder and harder to benefit from the well-established defence of duress.

A suggestion that a defendant has to be in fear of death or really serious personal harm before a duress defence can even be contemplated is obviously a higher hurdle to cross.

Even where somebody genuinely does fear for their life or for their personal safety, the defence of duress can slip away depending on the circumstances in which they have chosen to live or the friends or associates that have chosen to keep.

Nevertheless, there really are cases in which duress succeeds. Those of us imprisoned in the legal bubble can forget just how much personal information and experience jury members bring to the decisions they have to make.

What may not seem to be a really serious threat to those of us who daily deal with injury and death, may seem probably too real to a normal ordinary member of the public, perhaps with the same sensitivities as the defendant themselves.

It is important that no-one loses credit for a guilty plea unnecessarily, but it is equally important that clients are not saddled with convictions, sentences, and records that they might have otherwise avoided if their lawyers had had the courage to put to a jury something that it might find only too palatable.

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