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Duress In Criminal Defense In Maryland

Written by
June 17th, 2016

In criminal law, duress happens when an individual who has been deprived of his or her free will is not held liable for the crimes they have committed. Duress is a commonly used strategy for criminal defense in Maryland regarding any crime except murder. But what are the requirements for a duress defense in MD? This is where things may get tricky, and only an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Maryland will be able to correctly assess your case and your defense options.

Conditions for duress defense in MD

The basic principle of duress is easy to understand. The individual practically admits that he or she has committed a crime but states they were forced to do it under threat of violence or to their personal liberty. For example, an individual who has helped rob a bank may base their defense strategy on duress if they or a close relative were threatened and placed in fear for their lives by the person in charge of the robbery. Any criminal defense attorney in Annapolis will tell you that the necessary requirements for a duress defense are the following:

  • The threat must be real, and it must put the defendant (or a close relative of the defendant) in fear for his life or severe injury
  • The threat needs to come from another human being.
  • The individual acting under duress needs to genuinely believe that the threat is real
  • The threat needs to be impending and imminent at the time of the criminal act. In other words, the threatened harm needs to occur right away if the individual does not comply
  • The threat must be inescapable, leaving the individual with no other option but to comply
  • The individual acting under duress must be innocent of exposing themselves to duress

When it comes to the limitations of a duress defense in MD, you should know that duress cannot be used as a defense strategy for intentional killing or attempted intentional killing. Most of the states in the USA don't allow duress to be used in a homicide case. However, there are states that will drop homicide to manslaughter if a duress situation is proven. The best way to understand the limitations of a duress defense in MD is to get in touch with a criminal defense attorney from Annapolis and have them assess the particularities of your case.

It is important to understand your rights and to know that you have the right to a solid, compelling defense. Contact the best criminal defense lawyer from Maryland at (443) 569-3950 or by email at and receive a free consultation of your case.

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