Any unlawful threat or coercion used by a person to induce another to act (or to refrain from acting) in a manner he or she otherwise would not (or would). Subjecting person to improper pressure which overcomes his will and coerces him to comply with demand to which he would not yield if acting as free agent. Head v. Gadsden Civil Service Bd., Ala.Civ.App., 389 So.2d 516, 519.
Application of such pressure or constraint as compels man to go against his will, and takes away his free agency, destroying power of refusing to comply with unjust demands of another. Haumont v. Security State Bank, 220 Neb. 809, 374 N.W.2d 2, 6.
A condition where one is induced by wrongful act or threat of another to make a contract or perform a tortious act under circumstances which deprive him of exercise of his free will. Hyde v. Lewis, 25 Ill.App.3d 495, 323 N.E.2d 533, 537.
Includes any conduct which overpowers will and coerces or constrains performance of an act which otherwise would not have been performed. Williams v. Rentz Banking Co., 112 Ga.App. 384, 145 S.E.2d 256, 258.
Duress may be a defense to a criminal act, breach of contract, or tort because an act to be criminal or one which constitutes a breach of contract or a tort must be voluntary to create liability or responsibility. A contract entered into under duress by physical compulsion is void.
Also, if a party's manifestation of assent to a contract is induced by an improper threat by the other party that leaves the victim no reasonable alternative, the contract is voidable by the victim. Restatement, Second, Contracts No.No. 174, 175.
As a defense to a civil action, it must be pleaded affirmatively. Fed.R.Civil P. 8(c). As an affirmative defense in criminal law, one who, under the pressure of an unlawful threat from another human being to harm him (or to harm a third person), commits what would otherwise be a crime may, under some circumstances, be justified in doing what he did and thus not be guilty of the crime in question.
See Model Penal Code No. 2.09.
See also coercion
- undue influence
@ duress of goods
Where the act consists of a tortious seizure or detention of property from the person entitled to it, and requires some act as a condition for its surrender, the act is "duress of goods". Sistrom v. Anderson, 51 Cal.App.2d 213, 124 P.2d 372, 376
@ duress of imprisonment
The wrongful imprisonment of a person, or the illegal restraint of his liberty, in order to compel him to do some act. 1 Bl.Comm. 130, 131, 136, 137.
See also duress
@ duressor
/d(y)aresar/ One who subjects another to duress; one who compels another to do a thing, as by menace
@ duress per minas
/d(y)ares par maynas/ Duress by threats. The use of threats and menaces to compel a person, by the fear of death, or grievous bodily harm, as mayhem or loss of limb, to do some lawful act, or to commit a misdemeanor. 1 Bl.Comm. 130; 4 Bl.Comm. 30.
See metus

Black's law dictionary. . 1990.

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  • duress — du·ress /du̇ res, dyu̇ / n [Anglo French duresce, literally, hardness, harshness, from Old French, from Latin duritia, from durus hard]: wrongful and usu. unlawful compulsion (as threats of physical violence) that induces a person to act against… …   Law dictionary

  • duress — du‧ress [djʊˈres ǁ dʊ ] noun [uncountable] LAW the illegal or unfair use of force or threats to make someone do something: • He claimed that he had signed the contract under duress. * * * duress UK US /djʊˈres/ noun [U] LAW ► threats used to… …   Financial and business terms

  • Duress — Du*ress , v. t. To subject to duress. The party duressed. Bacon. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Duress — Du ress, n. [OF. duresse, du?, hardship, severity, L. duritia, durities, fr. durus hard. See {Dure}.] 1. Hardship; constraint; pressure; imprisonment; restraint of liberty. [1913 Webster] The agreements . . . made with the landlords during the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • duress — ► NOUN ▪ threats or violence used to coerce a person into doing something: confessions extracted under duress. ORIGIN originally in the sense harshness, cruel treatment : from Latin durus hard …   English terms dictionary

  • duress — [doo res′, dyoores′] n. [ME dures < OFr durece < L duritia, hardness, harshness < durus, hard < IE base * deru , tree, oak (orig. ? hard) > TREE] 1. imprisonment 2. the use of force or threats; compulsion [a confession signed under …   English World dictionary

  • duress — early 14c., harsh or severe treatment, from O.Fr. duresse, from L. duritia hardness, from durus hard (see ENDURE (Cf. endure)). Sense of coercion, compulsion is from 1590s …   Etymology dictionary

  • duress — constraint, coercion, compulsion, violence, *force, restraint …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • duress — [n] threat, hardship bondage, captivity, coercion, compulsion, confinement, constraint, control, detention, discipline, force, imprisonment, incarceration, pressure, restraint, violence; concepts 14,674 …   New thesaurus

  • Duress — For English law on the criminal defences, see duress in English law. For the American film, see Duress (film) …   Wikipedia

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