Wednesday, January 24, 2007

S.C. Supreme Court holds that criminal defendant has the burden of proving duress

In State v. New, New argued that another inmate had threatened him and therefore he was under duress when he participated in the taking of hostages at a correctional facility. He argued that the state had the burden of disproving his duress defense just like it would a self-defense assertion. The trial court and the state supreme court disagreed. According to the court, duress excuses the crime but does not negate any element of the offense, whereas self-defense goes to an element of the crime. Because "the existence of duress normally does not controvert any of the elements of the offense itself," the burden remains on the defendant.

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