Duress Case: State v. Crawford, 253 Kan. 629 (1993) [p. 584-592 n.

5] Facts: Δ was a cocaine junkie, and owed his dealer a lot of money. Δ claimed the dealer threatened to kill him and his son if Δ didn’t commit crimes (burglary, etc.) in order to get money to pay off his debts. Δ was charged with aggravated robbery, aggravated battery, kidnapping, and aggravated burglary. Δ committed the acts on his own, the dealer was not with him. Δ claims duress. Holding: • Court held that to claim duress, the following elements must be present (KS statute) • Threat of death or great bodily injury upon himself, spouse, parent, children, or siblings • Threat has to continuous • Threat has to be imminent • There must be no reasonable opportunities for escape • Reasonable belief that the threat will be carried out if Δ doesn’t commit the offenses • Defense not available if Δ places himself in a situation in which it is probable that he will be subjected to compulsion or threat • Defense not available when the offense is homicide • Court says no defense: • He placed himself in the situation - being a cocaine addict & incurring debt to people he knew were dangerous. The threat was not imminent or continuous - dealer not holding a gun to his head; his son was in another town. The threat was indefinite. Δ basically voluntarily committed the crimes - he even stopped to eat. • Δ also argued that the reasonableness of his fear should be determined by allowing the jury to look at the evidence showing his depression, his addiction, and his dependant personality. He said the last paragraph of the jury instruction excluded from these things from the jury's consideration (because if he could show his dependence and subservience to Bateman, but jury instruction basically negates that idea, requiring that there be an immediate threat, and that a future threat is not enough). • Court says though because Δ put himself into the position of dependence and indebtedness, the defense was not available. Class Notes • The quintessential duress claim - the bad actor holds a gun to the Δ's head and makes him rob a store • In this case, government still be able to prove elements of the offense. • There's still intent - that's diff from motive. • Can't argue that there's no actus reus - not an involuntary act - not literally involuntary. • Limitation that you can't invoke both the duress & necessity defense on a homicide; and there can't be any reasonable alternatives. • Δ has to exercise reasonable attempts to escape, and exercise reasonable alternatives. ___________________________________ Notes:

MPC § 2.09. Duress • (1) It is an affirmative defense that the actor engaged in the conduct charged to constitute an offense because he was coerced to do so by the use of, or a threat to use, unlawful force against his person or the person of another, that a person of reasonable firmness in his situation would have been unable to resist.

(2) The defense provided by this Section is unavailable is the actor recklessly placed himself in a situation in which it was probable that he would be subjected to duress. The defense is also unavailable if he was negligent in placing himself in such a situation, whenever negligence suffices to establish culpability for the offense charged. • (3) It is not a defense that a woman acted on the command of her husband, unless she acted under such coercion as would establish a defense under this Section. [The presumption that a woman acting in the presence of her husband is coerced is abolished.] • (4) When the conduct of the actor would otherwise be justifiable under Section 3.02, this Section does not preclude such defense. MPC Commentary. Not wholly objective standard - account is taken of the actor's situation. • Although its required (by MPC & Crawford & all courts) that there be at least a threat to personal safety as a minimum requirement for the duress defense, the commentary also notes that all circumstances should be considered in determining whether a person of reasonable firmness would have succumbed - must weigh with all factors, because persons of reasonable firmness break at different points depending on the stakes that are involved. MPC doesn’t have a limitation that precludes the defense from being invoked for homicide • MPC relaxed the imminence requirement in self-defense, here too, the MPC doesn’t ask for imminence. Instead, MPC asks whether a person of reasonable firmness would have succumbed - this will include taking a look at timing, though. Leaves room for jury to say, given the nature of the threat, even though not imminent, a person of reasonable firmness would have succumbed. • MPC doesn’t require that the threat be of death or great bodily harm. Only requires that it be a treat of unlawful force. Also KS statute says only against immediate family or self, but MPC doesn’t do this - only says against self or another person. Threats to property don’t count. • MPC says if Δ recklessly puts himself in the situation, the defense is unavailable. But he can if Δ acted only negligently, unless the mens rea of the offense can be proven by negligence (culpability). • To keep it from being purely subjectified, MPC refers to a person of reasonable firmness Which is the better approach? How broad should duress be?

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful