Call Meyer Van Severen, S.C. regarding your criminal case.  (414) 270-0202

Coercion is a defense to criminal liability.  It’s defined in section 939.46 of the Wisconsin Statutes:

  1. A threat by a person other than the actor’s coconspirator which causes the actor reasonably to believe that his or her act is the only means of preventing imminent death or great bodily harm to the actor or another and which causes him or her so to act is a defense to a prosecution for any crime based on that act, except that if the prosecution is for first-degree intentional homicide, the degree of the crime is reduced to 2nd-degree intentional homicide.
  2. A victim of a violation of s. 940.302 (2) or 948.051 has an affirmative defense for any offense committed as a direct result of the violation of s. 940.302 (2) or 948.051 without regard to whether anyone was prosecuted or convicted for the violation of s. 940.302 (2) or 948.051.
  3. It is no defense to a prosecution of a married person that the alleged crime was committed by command of the spouse nor is there any presumption of coercion when a crime is committed by a married person in the presence of the spouse.

What’s all this mean? There is a threat. That threat cannot have come from a co-conspirator. And that threat caused the defendant to believe that the only way he could prevent death or great bodily harm, to himself or another, was to commit a crime. This is a complete defense (you must be found not guilty) to crimes other than first-degree intentional homicide. If it’s first-degree intentional homicide, the charge is reduced to second-degree intentional homicide.

Paragraph 1m focuses on human trafficking and trafficking of a child cases. The victim of those offenses can use coercion as an affirmative defense if they’ve committed a crime against the individual trafficking them.

Finally, paragraph 2 focuses on couples. A command from one spouse to another does not create a coercion defense. And there’s no presumption of coercion when a crime is committed in the presence of the other spouse.


How is the coercion defense used?

Coercion doesn’t come into play unless it’s raised by the defendant and is supported by facts brought out during trial. The first step is finding that coercion is relevant to a specific criminal case. Once that’s determined we will figure out how to present evidence and testimony supporting a coercion defense.

Once the defense has been raised, the burden shifts to the prosecution to disprove the defense beyond a reasonable doubt. Moes v. State, 91 Wis.2d 756.


Contact Meyer Van Severen, S.C. for criminal defense

Meyer Van Severen, S.C., is a criminal defense law firm where 100% of our resources are focused on defending criminal and drunk driving cases. We’re able to focus on understanding the complexities of things like the coercion defense. If you’ve been charged with a crime in Wisconsin, contact our criminal defense lawyers immediately to set up a free consultation. (414) 270-0202.