Sydney Office

Level 35
201 Elizabeth Street
Sydney NSW 2000

Melbourne Office

Level 13
575 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

Brisbane Office

Level 5
231 North Quay
Brisbane QLD 4000

Canberra Office

Level 5
1 Farrell Place
Canberra ACT 2601

Perth Office

Level 10
111 St Georges Terrace
Perth WA 6000

Armstrong Legal Logo

Privacy Policy  |  Terms & Conditions

Copyright © 2019 Armstrong Legal. All rights reserved.

Browsing

Phone 1300 168 676

menu

Toggle Menu Menu

Duress

Print

Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

John Sutton

The defence of duress involves an extremely serious threat to an accused or their family involving the death or serious injury of the accused or their family. This defence is rarely raised in a criminal trial.

The test of a defence of duress

To use the defence of duress, the accused must call evidence about the following:

  • the making of an actual threat,
  • that the threat must be of death or serious injury to the accused or his family,
  • that the threat was of such gravity that a person of ordinary firmness of mind and will, and of the same sex and maturity as the accused, would have yielded to the threat in the way that the accused did, and
  • that the accused acted as he did because of the threat which was still acting on his mind at the time of the criminal act.
  • for such a threat to be effective it must be continuing and be seen to be continuing and such threat will not be continuing and effective if the accused has a reasonable opportunity to render the threat ineffective.

The onus of proof of a defence of duress

The accused bears an evidentiary onus (call evidence that raises the defence). Once the accused discharges the evidentiary onus, the prosecution must prove that the accused acted voluntarily and in order to do so must eliminate any reasonable possibility that he acted under duress.

More technical information of a defence of duress

The information contained below involves complex legal principles.  If you do not have a good knowledge of the law you may have difficulty understanding the principles.  If you need assistance, please call or email us.

Leading case of a defence of duress

R v Abusafiah (1991) 24 NSWLR 531.

Other principles

The court stated that the prosecution must establish one or the other of two things. It does not have to establish both of them. The first is that, when the accused did those acts, there is no reasonable possibility that he did so by reason of a threat that death or really serious physical harm would be inflicted upon him or upon his family if he did not do those acts.

If the prosecution has failed to eliminate that particular reasonable possibility, it must establish in relation to any such threat which may reasonably have been made that there is no reasonable possibility that such was its gravity that a person of ordinary firmness of mind and will, and of the same sex and maturity as the accused, would have yielded to that threat in the way in which the accused did.


where to next?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

Why Choose Armstrong Legal?

Leading Criminal Law NSW 2017 ISO 9001 Legal Best Practice Accredited Specialists Criminal Law Sydney Business Awards Winner 2011