We have talked a lot about how self defense actually works under the law and a little about the insanity defense. But those are only two famous defense methods used by criminal attorneys in La Jolla. Another possible defense to crimes occurs when someone commits a crime because they were forced to do so.
The most famous case involving duress was that of bank robber Brian Douglas Wells, who told police he was forced to rob the bank with a bomb around his neck and that if he did not comply, the people who put the bomb there would detonate it. The bomb went off in front of the police and Wells eventually died before he could use the duress defense. The other people involved claimed that the man was in on the crime and only tried to back out when he learned that a real bomb was being used. Even so, the concept of someone being forced to rob a bank at the threat of death is a vivid example of the duress defense.
While the duress defense can be strong when used properly, it is rarely used only because it specifically requires a person place a credible threat on the life of another person and then forces either that person or someone else to commit a crime in order to save the victim’s life. In other words, for your Mira Mesa criminal lawyer to use this defense, he or she must actually be able to show that you reasonably believed that someone told you to commit a crime and that you genuinely believed that if you failed to commit the crime, you or someone else would die. If you were blackmailed or if someone threatened to burn down your house, the duress defense would not apply.
Additionally, while the duress defense requires that someone’s life be at stake, the defense cannot be used against murder charges -even as a partial defense for a reduced charge. The state will not accept the saving of one person’s life to be an excuse for taking another person’s life. There is one exemption, which occurs when the murder was an accident that was a result of committing a felony under duress. For example, if you were forced to commit battery on someone and they died, bu you did not intend to kill them, you could still use the duress defense. If you aren’t sure if the duress defense can be used in your case, your Carmel Valley defense lawyer can help clear things up.
If your situation doesn’t qualify for the duress defense, you may still be able to use the related necessity defense, which applies when you commit a crime to avoid a larger danger. For example, if you are drunk at a party and you end up having to drive away while intoxicated to avoid being attacked by another party guest who wants to harm you, you may be able to use this defense. The key factors in the necessity defense are that you had no other alternative than to commit the crime and that you stopped doing the illegal activity as soon as you escaped the danger.
If you have been charged with a crime that you only committed to protect your life or the life of someone else, Solana Beach criminal attorney Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
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