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NCJ Number: 123257 Find in a Library
Title: Missouri's New Law on "Battered Spouse Syndrome:" A Moral Victory, a Partial Solution
Journal: Saint Louis University Law Journal  Volume:33  Issue:1  Dated:(Fall 1988)  Pages:227-255
Author(s): K R Brewer
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 29
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Missouri's new law on battered spouse syndrome correctly recognizes the problems battered spouses face in sustaining self-defense claims in their homicide cases, but the statute provides only a partial solution to associated problems and should be amended.
Abstract: The legislation provides for the admissibility of evidence that the defendant suffers from the battered spouse syndrome to address the issue of lawful self-defense or defense of another. The statute allows a battered woman, identified as such, to use expert testimony to demonstrate the reasonableness of her actions in the situation and to bolster a self-defense claim. Where the claim of self-defense is not supported by prima facie evidence, including the reasonableness of the defendant's actions, the law does not permit the court to admit battered-spouse-syndrome testimony to support the claim or to explain that the defendant's actions may have been reasonable under the circumstances. The law will be of little help to defendants whose claims of self-defense are reasonable in their own minds, but have little evidence of self-defense independently of expert testimony. The statute's effect would be enhanced by the adoption of a more subjective standard for self-defense and by drafting jury instructions which reflect this new standard. 184 footnotes.
Main Term(s): Battered woman syndrome
Index Term(s): Homicide; Missouri; Self defense; State laws
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