Duress - is a defence based on the fact that the defendant has been effectively forced to commit the crime.
- The defendant has committed the offence because he/she has been threatened with death or serious injury.
- The law therefore allows a defence.
- The defendant has to choose between being killed or seriously injured or committing a crime.
- There is no real choice in a situation like that
- The defendant can be considered as so terrified that he ceases (gives over) 'to be an independent actor'.
- However, despite this the defendant knowingly does the actus reus for the offence and has the required mens rea.
- This means that if the law did not allow the defence, he/she would be liable for the offence.
Duress can be either through a direct threat by another - 'Duress by threats'
external circumstances - 'Duress of circumstances' which overlaps with the defence of necessity.