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Criminal Law Spring 2021

IV.B.i. Duress

Excuses, unlike justifications, do not assert that an action was morally right: instead, they deem an action to have been wrong, but less blameworthy under the circumstances. Every category of excuse, however, raises problems. In the case of duress, the question becomes what level of duress is necessary to excuse a crime, and what crimes can it excuse? As you will see, there is both a traditional duress doctrine and a reformed doctrine promoted by the Model Penal Code. Consider the differences between duress (an excuse) and necessity (a justification). What is the distinction between them, and why does blameworthiness attach to one but not the other?