Battered Women and Mandatory Minimum Sentences

“Battered Women and Mandatory Minimum Sentencing” (2001), 39 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 529-554

25 Pages Posted: 8 May 2013

See all articles by Elizabeth A. Sheehy

Elizabeth A. Sheehy

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Date Written: 2001

Abstract

The author argues for the repeal of mandatory minimum sentences based upon their role in the distortion of defences available to battered women on trial for the homicide of their violent mates. After reviewing other legal strategies aimed at eliminating the discriminatory biases facing women who attempt to plead self-defence, and illustrating the ways in which defences to murder are distorted, she turns to the examination of the transcript of a recent murder trial for a woman who argued self-defence. The author uses the transcript to provide concrete illustrations of three ways in which self-defence is distorted by the mandatory life sentence for murder. She considers prosecutorial guidelines as another possible legal strategy, but concludes that nothing short of repeal of the mandatory life sentence can redress the power imbalance between prosecutor and accused and provide battered women with an opportunity to proceed to trial and have their actions recognized as justified by way of self-defence.

Keywords: mandatory minimum sentences, repeal mandatory minimum sentences, battered women, homicide, homicide of violent mates, self-defence, life sentence, repeal mandatory life sentence, power imbalance, trial, prosecutorial guidelines

Suggested Citation

Sheehy, Elizabeth A., Battered Women and Mandatory Minimum Sentences (2001). “Battered Women and Mandatory Minimum Sentencing” (2001), 39 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 529-554 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2261400

Elizabeth A. Sheehy (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada

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