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Use Of The Battered Woman Defense In Canada

1776 words - 7 pages

The battered woman defense is a defense that is used in court to defend assault/murder charges where the defendant is abused and commits a offence under duress or necessity. It is mainly used by women and also referred to as the battered woman syndrome/battered wife syndrome.
It is not gender specific as men have used this defense but the majority of the accused are female. The argument consists of a woman who are physically assaulted or sexually assaulted, who in their mind thinks they deserve the abuse from the abuser. Which is why they very rarely report it to the authorities and refuse to press charges and the abuse keeps on occurring. They may become depressed and this explains why they didn’t seek help form others, leave they situation, or fight back. It comes to a point were they fear for their own life or safely believing there is no way out and the only option is to kill the abuser or assaulter in order to escape the situation. There is no physiological condition to explain the mental condition they have to get to a point of desperation. Which makes it very hard to hold up in court.
This defense is split up into three parts, the plea of insanity, the plea of self-defense and the plea of duress.
- The plea of insanity is when the defendant has to have a mental illness or disorder at the time of the criminal act. This condition must have impaired the accused mental capacity so she did not understand what she was doing was morally wrong to society and she did not understand the nature of the act or consequences.(USDJ,1996)
-The plea of self-defense is where the accused used physical force this includes the use of a weapon, to respond to the abusers violent actions against them or their family for safety. But there may also be a situation where the abuser didn’t use force but the defendant believe deadly force was needed to protect their life. .(USDJ,1996)As in the Angelina Napolitano case where killed her husband to save her life.
-The plea of duress is when the abusers had to agree with the abusers demands to stop something else worse from happening. This may include illegal activity, illegal behavior, drug related activity, theft, fraud, or violence to others. To argue this plea of duress the judge has to find it was necessary to agree under that circumstances he/she was in harm or serious threat to their life or well being and this was the only way to avoid it.(USDJ,1996)
Angelina Napolitano was a immigrant who came to Canada in 1909. She was married to Pietro. Their marriage was violent as Pietro abused, beat, and threatened his wife. In November 1910 Pietro attacked her with a pocketknife assaulting her causing 9 slashes to her neck, shoulder, chest and arms putting her in the hospital and leaving scars. Pietro was charged with assault but his abuse reign continued after the trial because his sentence was delayed for a period of time. Judges back then would often do this as a prohibition period. If the defendant didn’t break...

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