Developments in Canadian Law after R. V. Lavallee
Julie Stubbs, ed, Women, Male Violence and the Law. Sydney: Institute of Criminology, 1994, pp. 174-191
16 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2013
Date Written: 1994
The recognition of "Battered Woman Syndrome" (BWS) by the Supreme Court of Canada in R v Lavallee has facilitated the mitigation of sentence for women who have survived violence and who have themselves been charged with the commission of particular criminal offences. While an unascertainable number of homicide prosecutions against battered women have been denied or derailed by virtue of Lavallee, it has not yet prompted either a wholesale review of the cases of women who are already serving sentences for their offences or a searching public inquiry into the nature and extent of male violence, the longterm, ripple effects of that violence in the lives of the children and adult women who survive it, and the appropriate response by the criminal justice system to the offences committed by those women.
In this chapter I begin by outlining the ways in which defence counsel in Canada have utilised Lavallee, both successfully and unsuccessfully, on behalf of their clients as evidenced in reported cases. I then turn to an examination of the cases of women whose actions and lives have yet to be understood in light of their experience of traumatic violence, and I then identify several directions in which feminists might lead change.
Keywords: Battered Women Syndrome, BWS, R v. Lavallee, violence, women, survive, charged, offences, criminal, homicide, trisections, serving sentences, male violence, longterm effects, children, criminal justice system, feminists
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