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The intimidation of a victim to compel the individual to do some act against his or her will by the use of psychological pressure, physical force, or threats. The crime of intentionally and unlawfully restraining another's freedom by threatening to commit a crime, accusing the victim of a crime, disclosing any secret that would seriously impair the victim's reputation in the community, or by performing or refusing to perform an official action lawfully requested by the victim, or by causing an official to do so.
A defense asserted in a criminal prosecution that a person who committed a crime did not do so of his or her own free will, but only because the individual was compelled by another through the use of physical force or threat of immediate serious bodily injury or death.
In the laws governing wills, coercion is present when a testator is forced by another to make provisions in his or her will that he or she otherwise would not make if permitted to act according to free choice. It is an element of both duress and Undue Influence, two ways in which a testator is deprived of his or her free choice in making the will. If coercion is established in a proceeding to admit a will to probate, the document will be denied probate, thereby becoming void; and the property of the decedent will be distributed pursuant to the laws of Descent and Distribution.
Coercion, as an element of duress, is grounds for seeking the Rescission or cancellation of a contract or deed. When one party to an instrument is forced against his or her will to agree to its terms the document can be declared void by a court. A marriage may be annulled or a separation or Divorce granted on the grounds of coercion. The coercion of small businesses by a cartel to fix prices of particular items supplied to them is a violation of antitrust laws, which are intended to prevent the restraint of competition in commerce. Laws regulating labor-management relations are violated by coercion when the employer coerces employees not to join a Labor Union or when a union representative pressures, uses physical force, or threatens an employee into joining the union.
Coercion is recognized as a defense in prosecutions for crimes other than murder. If an accused can establish that he or she committed a crime as a result of the coercion imposed by another the defendant will be acquitted on the charge as a Matter of Law. He or she will not be excused for the crime if there was only fear of minor physical injury, damage to reputation, or property loss. The person who coerces another to commit a crime is guilty of the crime committed. The coercer can also be prosecuted for the separate crime of coercion.
Coercion by law is the rendition of a judgment or a decree by a court, tax assessment board, or other Quasi-Judicial body for an amount of money presently due that mandates the sale of property owned by the defendant to pay the judgment.
coercionnoun blackmail, bondage, brute force, command, compulsion, constraint, constraint by force, control, dictation, duress, exaction, exigency, force, forcing, illegal compulsion, impelling, insistence, intimidation, moral compulsion, necessity, negative compulsion, oppression, oppressive exaction, pressure, prevailing, prohibition, repression, strong arm tactics, threat, undue influence, unlawful compulsion
Associated concepts: coercive conduct, duress, extortion, coercion of employees
Foreign phrases: Extortio est crimen quando quis colore, officii extorquet quod non est debitum, vel supra debiium, vel ante tempus quod est debitum.Extortion is a crime when, by color of office, any person extorts that which is not due, or more than is due, or before the time when it is due. Nihil consensui tam contrarium est quam vis atque metus. Nothing is so opposed to consent as force and fear. Vis legibus est inimica. Force is inimical to the laws.
See also: compulsion, constraint, duress, extortion, force, oppression, pressure, restriction, stress
COERCION, criminal law, contracts. Constraint; compulsion; force.
2. It is positive or presumed. 1. Positive or direct coercion takes place when a man is by physical force compelled to do an act contrary to his will; for example, when a man falls into the hands of the enemies of his country, and they compel him, by a just fear of death, to fight against it.
3.-2. It is presumed where a person is legally under subjection to another, and is induced, in consequence of such subjection, to do an act contrary to his win. A married woman, for example, is legally under the subjection of her husband, and if in his company she commit a crime or offence, not malum in se, (except the offence of keeping a bawdy-house, In which case she is considered by the policy of the law as a principal, she is presumed to act under this coercion.
4. As will (q.v.) is necessary to the commission of a crime, or the making of a contract, a person coerced into either, has no will on the, subject, and is not responsible. Vide Roscoe's Cr. Ev. 7 85, and the cases there cited; 2 Stark. Ev. 705, as to what will, amount to coercion in criminal cases.