From Florida Legal Wiki
The elements of Duress have been stated as:
- One side involuntarily accepted the terms of another;
- Where the circumstances permitted no other alternative; and
- That said circumstances were the result of coercive acts of the opposite party.
However, duress may also be raised as as affirmative defense even though it is caused by a third party, so long as the party benefiting from the state of duress knows that the affected party is in duress. See Associated Hous. Corp. v. Keller Bldg. Products of Jacksonville, Inc., 335 So.2d 362, 363 (Fla. 1st DCA 1976). (If an instrument is (1) signed under duress and (2) the state of duress is "known to have been induced by the party in whose favor it redounds" then duress is a proper defense to an action on that instrument, it matters not from whom the duress emanates.)
In more general terms it can be stated that duress is a condition of the mind produced by an improper external pressure or influence that practically destroys the free agency of a party so that the act of that party was not of her own volition. City of Miami v. Kory, 394 So.2d 494, 499 (Fla. 3d DCA 1981), citing Fruhauf Southwest Garment Company v. United States, 111 F.Supp. 945 (1953); and Herald v. Hardin, 116 So. 863 (Fla. 1928).
The defense of duress may also be raised as a defense to criminal prosecution. In a criminal case the defendant must demonstrate six elements:
- the defendant reasonably believed that a danger or emergency existed that he did not intentionally cause;
- the danger or emergency threatened significant harm to himself or a third person;
- the threatened harm must have been real, imminent, and impending;
- the defendant had no reasonable means to avoid the danger or emergency except by committing the crime;
- the crime must have been committed out of duress to avoid the danger or emergency; and
- the harm the defendant avoided outweighs the harm caused by committing the crime.