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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 70157 Find in a Library
Title: Representation of Women Who Defend Themselves in Response to Physical or Sexual Assault
Author(s): E M Schneider; S B Jordan
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 30
Sponsoring Agency: Ctr for Constitutional Rights
New York, NY 10012
Ctr for Women Policy Studies
Washington, DC 20036
Sale Source: Ctr for Constitutional Rights
666 Broadway
7th Floor
New York, NY 10012
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article is intended to aid attorneys representing women who commit homicides after they have been physically or sexually molested or after their children have been molested or abused.
Abstract: This approach presented identifies the myths and misconceptions held about women and seeks to remove these misconceptions from the trial and defense process. The defense presented argues that a woman may, due to a variety of societally based factors, reasonably perceive imminent and lethal danger in a situation in which a man might not. This perception will justify her recourse to deadly force, as it would for a man who perceives such danger. The historical, social, and legal background of homicide by women of men who have been assaulting them is examined, with attention to the neglect of such women by the law and law enforcement agencies. Two possible defenses for these women are self-defense and the impaired mental state defense. Both defenses are first examined within the framework of general law and of social implications. The theory of justifiable homicide and its intrinsic sex bias, sex bias in the perception of imminent danger and the use of deadly force, and the woman's perspective as ignored in defense counsel, are examined. For a defense of self-defense, defense issues include women's perceptions of danger, women's need to use weapons, provocation and time restrictions, decedents' reputations for violence, and rage and the other emotions that naturally and reasonably accompany it. Attention is given to defenses of impaired mental state with cautionary notes as to its potential for traditional sex prejudice. Finally, trial tactics and strategies are discussed, with emphasis on voir dire, education of the judge, presentation of expert testimony, jury instructions, and women's movement resources. Included are 115 footnotes, citing case law.
Index Term(s): Battered wives; Defense preparation; Female offenders; Homicide; Insanity defense; Self defense
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