Understanding the Duress Defense in Houston, TX

04 Sep 2023
Greco Neyland, PC

Have you ever considered whether you’d commit a crime if you had a literal gun to your head? These scenarios do happen in real life, and the duress defense exists to cover them.

The duress defense is codified in Texas Law under Texas Penal Code Title 2, Chapter 8.


“It is an affirmative defense to prosecution that the actor engaged in the proscribed conduct because he was compelled to do so by threat of imminent death or serious bodily injury to himself or another.”

In a misdemeanor case, the actor can claim they acted under duress if they were compelled by the lesser standard of force or threat of force.

To prove the duress defense, you must be able to show that a reasonable person of reasonable firmness would be incapable of resisting the pressure and that you did not intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly place yourself in a situation in which it was probable that you would be subjected to this compulsion.

Acting under the command of a spouse does not count unless all other conditions are met.

A duress defense is a form of affirmative defense. This means you’re admitting to the crime but are claiming you had a defensible, legal reason to commit the crime. As such, it is not always the best way to secure your freedom or defend your rights in a Texas criminal case, even if the defense would be a fit for the facts of the case.

In fact, it is rarely invoked as a defense in most criminal cases. Some juries see duress not as an affirmative defense but as an excuse

Thus, you should not attempt to discuss duress with police. Claiming you were under duress will not stop them from arresting you, and it will not induce them to let you go. In fact, if you start discussing duress in the middle of an interrogation, you could make their case for them. Let your lawyer decide whether and how a duress defense could serve you.

Invoke your right to remain silent and call a qualified criminal lawyer from our team as quickly as you possibly can. Share the facts of the case with us, and we will help you craft the legal defense that is most likely to serve you.

Are you in trouble? Is your loved one under arrest? Contact us to schedule a consultation and case review today.

See also:

7 Common Myths About Criminal Law in Texas

3 Reasons You Need a Private Criminal Lawyer for Your Houston, TX Case

Why You Shouldn’t Talk to Your Friends and Family Members About Your Houston, TX Criminal Case

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