coercion | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Criminal Law

Coercion is the practice (usually criminal) of using force or the threat of force to gain compliance.

Coercion is a criminal act that is defined under the Model Penal Code as the use of physical force or a threat of physical force to compel an individual to commit a crime. Coercion can be used to compel someone to commit a crime or prevent someone from reporting a crime or cooperate with law enforcement.

Under the Model Penal Code, coercion is considered a form of duress, which is a defense against criminal liability. If a person can demonstrate that they committed a crime under the threat of coercion, they may be able to argue that they were not criminally responsible for their actions. However, the use of coercion is still a criminal act in and of itself and can result in charges and penalties for those who engage in it.

In addition to being a criminal act in its own right, coercion is often used as a tactic by those involved in other criminal activities, such as human trafficking, prostitution, and drug trafficking. Criminal organizations may use coercion to force individuals into these activities, either by using physical force or by exploiting vulnerabilities such as addiction, poverty, or immigration status.

Because it involves the use of force or the threat of force, it is considered a serious crime under the Model Penal Code. The severity of the penalties for coercion will depend on the specific circumstances of the crime, including the degree of force used, the nature of the threat, and the harm caused to the victim. In some cases, coercion can result in charges of kidnapping or aggravated assault, which carry significant penalties, including long prison sentences and substantial fines.

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Last Modified: 04/09/2023

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