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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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
These corollaries will be supported with both the analytical framework of action as well as empirical observations of successful and lasting property regimes that minimize the use of coercion, and contentious property regimes that rely on an observable amount of unnecessary coercion.
Like most other aspects of purposeful action, whether a property regime was the result of coercion or mutual agreement is a subjective determination.
To illustrate the subjectivity of using coercion in gaining a solution, let us assume that the only property claim at issue between two parties is exclusion from a spatial location.
This fact encourages each actor to impress additional parties to add support to their efforts, based on whether they view the balance of the strength of A's claim against the amount of coercion needed to ultimately repel B, or B's claim against the amount of coercion needed to earn A's consent to cross as needed as the course of action necessary to earn the most valued outcome to the party.
(26) This does not insulate the side winning the conflict to use indiscriminate levels of coercion in establishing and maintaining their regime, as this coercion is as susceptible to subjective judgment as was the coercion originally in the system, and is subject to an identical analysis.
The future value that the coercive party seeks to receive from the coerced party is the continued obedience to the property regime, and the control exerted to realize this value is any continued coercion used to secure the obedience.
Tragic examples of a property regime obviously enforced by coercion are those of coercive prohibitions on goods and services.
(32) This realization of the potential imposition and costs of a system of laws enforced by coercion introduces the language of justice, which is the subjective determination that any net coercion used in a property conflict was necessary as meeting some valued goal, and will be further developed in section IV below.
According to the action theory of property there is yet no problem in this formulation, as there has been no coercion used to enforce a property regime.
The action theory offers at least a standard by which potential conflicts can be resolved in attempting to minimize or eliminate coercion amongst the conflicting actors.
In fact, some libertarian theorists have wrestled with the difference between coercion and aggression, but a measure of net-coercion was not forthcoming.