State v. Burrow, ___ N.C. App. ___, 789 S.E.2d 923 (Aug. 2, 2016)

In this attempted felony breaking or entering and habitual felon case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request to instruct the jury on duress. To be entitled to an instruction on duress, a defendant must present evidence that he feared he would suffer immediate death or serious bodily injury if he did not act. Moreover, duress cannot be invoked as an excuse by someone who had a reasonable opportunity to avoid doing the act without undue exposure to death or serious bodily harm. Here, the evidence showed that the defendant’s accomplice drove the defendant’s vehicle to the home in question while the defendant was a passenger. The accomplice, carrying a knife, and the defendant, carrying a lug wrench walked to the premises. After realizing that the resident was taking their pictures, both fled. When asked if he attempted to get away from his accomplices at any point, the defendant testified only that his accomplices “pretty much had control of my car;” he also testified that at some point he “did get scared” of his accomplices because they talked about stealing his truck. He admitted however that they never pulled a weapon on him. Additionally, although the defendant argued that his accomplices held him against his will for several days, he had at least two opportunities to seek help and escape, including one instance when he was alone with an officer. Based on this evidence, the defendant was not entitled to a jury instruction on duress.