What Is Duress and Is It a Valid Defense to Homicide in Pennsylvania?

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
January 30, 2024
Court of Law and Justice

Duress is a concept in criminal law referring to situations where individuals are forced to commit criminal acts under threat or violence. The state of Pennsylvania, like many other states, recognizes duress as a potential defense to some criminal charges. However, the predicament arises when this defense is applied to severe charges like homicide. A person facing homicide charges in Pennsylvania is in a situation where the stakes are high and the ramifications can be life-altering.

At Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C., we comprehend the intricacies involved in such dire legal situations. Our adept team of attorneys with 270 cumulative years of experience is ready to delve into the nuances of your case, crafting a tailored strategy to advocate for your rights. We are committed to standing with you at every step of your legal journey, providing the robust representation you require in these testing times.

Understanding Duress as a Legal Defense

Duress is typically invoked as a defense in criminal cases when an individual is coerced into committing a crime either due to the infliction of serious bodily harm or the threat of imminent bodily harm or death. The core elements of duress include:

  • An immediate threat of serious bodily harm or death
  • A well-grounded fear that the threat will be carried out
  • No reasonable opportunity to escape or evade the threat

In Pennsylvania, the law is structured in such a way that the defense of duress can be complex, especially when related to homicide charges. The courts assess the immediacy and the degree of the threat, alongside the accused person’s response, to determine the validity of a duress defense.

Duress and Homicide: The Intersection

When it comes to homicide charges, the application of a duress defense becomes exceedingly complicated. Pennsylvania law traditionally holds a stringent stance toward claiming duress as a defense to homicide. This is rooted in the belief that taking another person’s life is a grievous act, and the law provides limited scope for justifications.

Yet, each case presents a unique set of circumstances. The presence of duress may significantly alter the narrative, thereby impacting the legal proceedings. The interaction between the duress defense and homicide charges necessitates an in-depth examination of the facts, the applicable laws, and the potential legal pathways that can be navigated to protect the accused person’s rights.

RGSG Can Help With Your Duress Defense

With such a high-stakes case, having a seasoned team of attorneys by your side is crucial. At RGSG, we combine our extensive experience with a client-centric approach to ensure that your case receives the attention and skill it deserves. Our firm’s reputation as a “Best Law Firm” since 2010 by U.S. News & World Report stands as a testimony to our competence and commitment to safeguarding our clients’ rights.

Retaining a lawyer from RGSG not only provides you with proficient legal representation but also the assurance of a dedicated team striving to present a compelling defense on your behalf. The complexity of duress and homicide in Pennsylvania demands a thorough understanding and adept handling of the law, which is precisely what we offer.

Why Entrust Your Case to Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford?

Recruiting RGSG means entrusting your case to a reputable law firm that values your rights and is prepared to fight assiduously to uphold them. Our attorneys offer vast experience, legal acumen, and a genuine concern for the challenging circumstances you find yourself in. Your battle becomes our battle, and we are equipped to face the legal challenges head-on with a strategy tailored to your unique situation.

We invite you to reach out to us, share the details of your case, and let us advise you on the next steps. Our holistic approach to legal representation ensures you are well-informed and well-represented throughout the process. Connect with us today via our contact form or by calling (215) 822-7575 to discuss your case and explore the potential legal avenues available to you.

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
Pennsylvania Attorney's
January 30, 2024
Established in 1952 by Irwin S. Rubin, Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C. boasts over 65 years of experience serving clients throughout Pennsylvania. Renowned for its commitment to ethical representation, the firm has garnered prestigious accolades, including being named the "Best Law Firm" for its outstanding legal defense work by U.S. News & World Report. Their team of seasoned attorneys, recognized as Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, brings unparalleled expertise to a wide range of legal matters, ensuring exceptional representation for individuals, families, businesses, and organizations.