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Under Duress

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  • Under Duress

    Duress (often used in the phrase under duress) is an unlawful pressure exerted upon a person to coerce that person to perform an act that he or she ordinarily would not perform.

    Duress also encompasses the same harm, threats, or restraint exercised upon the affected individual's spouse, child, or parent.

    Duress is distinguishable from Undue Influence, a concept employed in the law of wills, in that the latter term involves a wrongdoer who is a fiduciary, one who occupies a position of trust and confidence in regard to the testator, the creator of the will.

    Duress also exists where a person is coerced by the wrongful conduct or threat of another to enter into a contract under circumstances that deprive the individual of his or her volition.

    As a defense to a civil action, the federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that duress be pleaded affirmatively.

    Except with respect to Homicide, a person who is compelled to commit a crime by an unlawful threat from another person to injure him, her, or a third person, will generally not be held responsible for its commission.

    Duress means that you are being forced to participate in some illegal activity against your will.

    When you are signing a parking ticket or a disciplinary document at work you are only signing to acknowledge receipt of the document. You aren't signing as a statement that you agree or disagree with anything written on it and accepting such a document from another person certainly isn't illegal so claiming that you are signing it under duress is a stretch.

    Now if a cop showed up at your door and had a statement saying that you witnessed a crime taking place that you were unaware of and they threatened that you had to sign it or they'd do something to cause you problems you'd be under true duress. They'd be coercing you to sign a false statement and signing a false statement is illegal.

    Even if you signed something under duress and marked the document as such you'd probably be questioned to determine if there was any actual coercion involved.
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