Is my case considered duress?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is my case considered duress?

I work for a company for a total of 5 weeks. Money was continuously coming up missing out of people’s registers, not just buying the entire time but I did not know this until I was questioned and fired. I was called into the office and question about the money, when I started to tell him that I had accepted tips from customers but had never taken any money from the business I was immediately cut off and screamed at. I was told that if I did not admit to taking the money I would be fired and arrested on the spot. I was told that the money missing out of my particular register was my responsibility anyway and if I admitted to taking it and signed a letter I could keep my job and pay back the money that I was responsible for. I agreed to do that and about 20 minutes later I was fired and arrested. I have severe social and generalized anxiety disorders and felt forced into confessing and signing the document. Does this count as duress? What are my odds in court? We have been going to court for almost 6 months now and it keeps getting adjourned.

Asked on October 15, 2018 under Criminal Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, it would legally count as duress, since 1) your employer has the right to threaten to fire (or to actually fire) an employee it suspects of monetary impropriety, and 2) you could have refused to sign and the most that could have happened is that you would have been terminated, which you were anyway. It is only duress when illegal pressure (like threats of violence blackmail, or criminal activity) are used, not when someone is threatening to do what they have a right to do; and when you don't have the ability to refuse (and again, you did have that ability here; you chose to comply in an effort to save your job).

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