Posted On: February 22, 2013 by Shorstein & Lasnetski

In Florida Coercion is a Recognized Defense to Any Crime Except Homicide

In Florida, the a defendant may use the defense of duress, or coercion, to just about any crime except homicide. As a result, a defendant cannot argue to a jury that someone forced him/her to kill another person, but it can be used in most other situations, where it applies. The defense of duress or coercion is not used often, and is rarely successful, but in order to assert such a defense, the defendant has to establish that he she was reasonably in danger that he/she did not cause, the danger involved significant harm to him/her or someone else, the danger must be imminent, the defendant had no way of avoiding the danger other than committing the crime, the crime was committed to avoid the danger and the harm the defendant avoided outweighed the harm caused by committing the crime.

So there are a lot of factors involved in presenting a proper duress defense, and those factors are very difficult to prove. The classic example would be where a drug user held a gun to a person or a family member and threatened violence if the person did not go to a pharmacy and fill out a fraudulent prescription for pain pills. If the defendant was arrested for trafficking in oxycodone and was able to establish that he/she got the pills to avoid violence, that could be a valid defense.