Coercion “Legally” Defined

The following definitions for “coercion” are taken from Ballantine’s Law Dictionary (3rd edition), Bouvier’s Law Dictionary (6th edition), Black’s Law Dictionary (2nd edition), and “Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:

 

 

 

(Ballantine’s)

Compulsion by the application of physical or mental force or persuasion. A word descriptive of the result of an act rather than a designation of an act [NLRB v. Grower-Shipper Vegetable Asso. (CA9) 122 F2d. 368]. A form of abuse of process [1 Am J2d Abuse P § 9]. The compulsion, presumed by some, especially older, authorities, to have been exercise by a husband upon the wife for the commission of a crime which was committed by her in his presence [21 Am J2d Crim L § 102]. As a defense to an action upon a written instrument; importunity which destroys the free agency of person subjected and substitutes the will of another in place of his own [Gomillion v. Forsythe, 218 SC 211, 62 SE 2d 297, 53 ALR 2 D 169]. As an unfair labor practice: physical or mental persuasion by affirmative conduct [31 Am J Rev ed Lab § 226]. As an excuse for the commission of an act; otherwise criminal a present, imminent, and impending physical or mental force of such a nature as to induce a well-grounded apprehension of death or serious bodily injury if the act is not done [State v. St. Clair (Mo) 262 SW2d 25, 40 ALR2d 903].

 

(Bouvier’s)

  1. Constraint; compulsion; force.

  2. Is it positive or presumed; positive or direction coercion takes place when a man is by physical force compelled to do an act contrary to his will; for example, when a man falls into the hands of the enemies of his country, and they compel him, by a just fear of death, to fight against it.

  3. It is presumed where a person is legally under subjection to another, and is induced, in consequence of such subjection, to do an act contrary to his win. A married woman, for example, is legally under the subjection of her husband, and if in his company she commit a crime or offense, not malum in se, (except the offense of keeping a bawdy-house, in which case she is considered by the policy of the law as the principle), she is presumed to act under this coercion.

  4. As will (q. v.) is necessary to the commission of a crime, or the making of a contract, a person coerced into either, has no will on the, subject, and is not responsible [Vide Roscoe’s Cr. Ev. 7 85], and the cases there cites; [2 Stark. Ev. 705] as to what will, amount to coercion in criminal cases.

 

(Black’s)

Compulsion; force; duress. It may be either actual, (direct or positive,) where physical force is put upon a man to compel him to do an act against his will, or implied, (legal or constructive,) where the relation of the parties is such that one is under subjection to the other, and is thereby constrained to do what his free will would refuse [State v. Darlington, 153 Ind. 1, 53 N. E. 925; Chappell v. Trent, 90 Va. 849, 19 S. E. 314; Radich v. Hutchins, 95 U. S. 213, 24 L. Ed. 409; Peyser v. New York, 70 N. Y. 497, 26 Am. Rep. 624; State v. Boyle, 13 R. I. 538].

 

(Webster’s)

COERCION, n.

Restraint, check, particularly by law or authority; compulsion; force.

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