Bicycle Injury Lawyer, Criminal Defense Lawyer

Coercion Defense in Wisconsin

If a person threatens another person and the threat causes the actor to reasonably believe his or her act is the only means or preventing imminent death or great bodily harm to the actor or another person, and the threat causes him or her to act, the act is a defense to a prosecution for any crime based on that act unless the prosecution is for first degree intentional homicide-in that case the crime is reduced to 2nd degree.  The coercion defense is limited to the most severe form of inducement. It requires a finding under the objective-reasonable man test, with regard to the reasonableness of the actor's beliefs that he is threatened with immediate death or great bodily harm with no possible escape other than the commission of a criminal act.

A defendant seeking a coercion defense instruction must meet the initial burden of producing evidence to support such an instruction.  A defendant is entitled to a coercion defense instruction if (1)the defense relates to a legal theory of a defense, as opposed to an interpretation of evidence; (2) the request is timely made; (3) the defense is not adequately covered by other instructions; and (4) the defense is supported by sufficient evidence.Regarding the last prong of this test, evidence is sufficient if a reasonable construction of the evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to the accused, supports the defendant's theory. In a past Wisconsin case a defendant alleged at trial that he only hit another person with a baseball bat because he was ordered to do so by the co-defendant and the co-defendant threatened to hit him with a bad if he did not do it.  The trial court refused to allow the jury to hear the defense of coercion.  The Wisconsin Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court and found that the defendant could have avoided the crime by calling the police, never going to the victims house in the first place, and many other options.