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Criminal law, contracts. Constraint; compulsion; force. Compulsion by physical force or threat, or the improper use of economic power. It is positive or presumed. Positive or direct 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. 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. Under the old common law, 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 a principal, she is presumed to act under this coercion. As will 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.


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