Last Updated: November 19, 2023

Is duress a defense to criminal prosecution in Utah?

Duress, coercion, and threats are covered by Utah’s affirmative defense of “compulsion” under Utah Code 76-2-302. The statutory defense of compulsion provides that a person is not guilty of the charged crime if the person was coerced, through the use of actual or threatened unlawful force against the person, or…

Duress, coercion, and threats are covered by Utah’s affirmative defense of “compulsion” under Utah Code 76-2-302. The statutory defense of compulsion provides that a person is not guilty of the charged crime if the person was coerced, through the use of actual or threatened unlawful force against the person, or against another person.

Imminent Threat Requirement

To support a compulsion defense, a threat of force must be imminent. The use or threatened use of force must also be of a nature that “a person of reasonable firmness in [the same] situation would not have resisted.”

A compulsion defense is not available if the person “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” created or got into a situation in which duress or threats of force would be likely.

Compulsion as an Affirmative Defense

Compulsion is considered to be an “affirmative” defense, meaning that if evidence is presented that supports it, regardless of whether that evidence is presented by the prosecution or by the defense, then the prosecution must meet the burden of disproving the affirmative defense beyond a reasonable doubt.

Originally Published: November 19, 2023

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