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Educating Juries: The Battered Woman Defence in Canada

NCJ Number
Alberta Law Review Volume: 25 Issue: 3 Dated: (1987) Pages: 461-476
D J Brodsky
Date Published
16 pages
This analysis considers the possibility of using the American battered woman defense in Canada, with emphasis on the relevant provisions of the Canadian Criminal Code and the Canada Evidence Act.
Growing awareness of the problem of wife abuse and research on the problem is producing discoveries that can help juries understand the state of mind that is unique to battered women who kill in self-defense. In the United States, expert testimony on the battered woman syndrome is admissible if it is relevant and meets the three-part test applied by the courts. No recorded cases of the battered woman's defense have yet occurred in Canada. However, the recognition and acceptance of the recent research indicates that courts should admit expert testimony used to support the self-defense claim of a battered woman charged with murder. Sections 34(2) and 37 of the Canadian Criminal Code can be used by the battered woman claiming self-defense. In addition, Canadian courts have adopted a three-fold test of admissibility similar to the one used in the United States. Canadian society cannot condone an intentional or retributive murder, but it must address the problem of family violence by protecting the rights of a battered woman to act reasonably in self-defense when circumstances fit such a recognized justification. 108 footnotes. (Author abstract modified)


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