Battered Women Charged with Homicide in Australia, Canada and New Zealand: How Do They Fare?

Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, December 2012, 45: 383-399

UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2013-8

20 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2013 Last revised: 5 May 2014

See all articles by Elizabeth A. Sheehy

Elizabeth A. Sheehy

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Julie Stubbs

University of New South Wales (UNSW, Australia) - Faculty of Law

Julia Tolmie

University of Auckland

Date Written: January 21, 2013

Abstract

This article examines trends in the resolution of homicide cases involving battered women defendants from 2000 to 2010 in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Australia and Canada appear to have some commonalities in their treatment of such cases with higher acquittal rates and a greater reliance on plea bargaining to produce manslaughter verdicts, as compared with New Zealand. Although New Zealand’s small number of cases makes it difficult to generalise, its overall trends appear to be different from those observed in Australia and Canada, in both the high proportion of cases proceeding to trial and those resulting in conviction for murder. The authors conclude that there is a need to re-examine prosecutorial practices of proceeding to trial on murder rather than manslaughter charges even when manslaughter would be ultimately satisfactory to the prosecution, and of accepting guilty pleas to manslaughter verdicts in circumstances where the battered woman appears to have a strong self-defence case.

Keywords: homicide, battered women, plea bargaining, domestic violence, defences

Suggested Citation

Sheehy, Elizabeth A. and Stubbs, Julie and Tolmie, Julia, Battered Women Charged with Homicide in Australia, Canada and New Zealand: How Do They Fare? (January 21, 2013). Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, December 2012, 45: 383-399; UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2013-8. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2212118

Elizabeth A. Sheehy

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada

Julie Stubbs (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales (UNSW, Australia) - Faculty of Law ( email )

Kensington
High St
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

Julia Tolmie

University of Auckland ( email )

Private Bag 92019
Auckland
New Zealand

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