Legislation, Presidential & Congressional Politics/Legal Question


Hello Mr. Troy,

I have had the pleasure of asking you questions in the past. Im hoping to obtain your assistance once again. I thank you in advance.

I have a question about Capital Murder. Specifically about murder occurring outside the USA.

Is it considered murder if one is coerced to kill with specific details. For example, if individual A was to coerced individual B to kill individual C with a knife? AND if individual B fails to kill individual C, then individual A will kill individual C's family.

My question is despite it being premeditated - does coercion impact the claim of capital murder as defined? Is it still capital murder?

Im doing a legal review analysis on an international incident. A man was coerced to kill in order to save his family. He was then found guilty of capital murder. He admits he kille dthem but was in fact coerced.

Can you please provide me some insight here?

Thank you


The situation you describe is known by the legal term "duress."  This means that the person committing the murder is acting only because he or she is forced to do so in order to prevent the genuine imminent threat to the life of another.  Most jurisdictions do NOT recognize duress as a justification for capital murder.  In other words, even if your life or the life of a family member is at stake, that is still not a justification to commit murder against an innocent third party.

There are some jurisdictions where such a scenario would allow the accused to have the charges reduced from murder to manslaughter, but the majority of jurisdictions do not allow even that.  In other words, in most jurisdictions, duress is not a defense against capital murder.

I hope this helps!
- Mike  

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Michael Troy


I can answer just about any question about U.S. Political history, Constitutional law, the legislative process, elections, etc. I enjoy Presidential and Congressional historical trivia, but can answer more substantive questions too.


Former Staff member for a Congressman and Senator. I also worked on about 10 Congressional and Presidential campaigns (only one that won). For a short time, I worked in the legal department of the Federal Election Commission.    I have a B.A. in Political Science.

Former LBJ Fellow (paid fellowship for Congressional Staff).
Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science Honorary Society).

Washington Post
Washington Times

J.D. University of Michigan
B.A. George Washington University (Poli. Sci. major).

Awards and Honors
LBJ Fellow
Truman Scholar

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