An Iowa Law in Need of Imminent Change: Redefining the Temporal Proximity of Force to Account for Victims of Intimate Partner Violence Who Kill in Non-Confrontational Self-Defense
28 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2015
Date Written: January 14, 2015
In 2010, in response to gendered sentencing discrepancies resulting from the “immediacy” requirement in the provocation partial defense, the United Kingdom enacted the Coroners and Justice Act, which abolished provocation and replaced it with the defense of “loss of self-control.” Under the new law, women who kill their abuser in non-confrontational situations no longer have to defend themselves “immediately” at the very instant an abuser threatens their life. Under Iowa self-defense law, which operates as a complete defense, an abuse victim must show she is in “imminent” danger of death or serious injury when she defends herself. Iowa courts interpret “imminent” to mean “immediate” as in the United Kingdom. Women who use force against their assailant in non-confrontational settings cannot show temporal proximity of force, which leads to harsher sentences than men receive for killing a partner. After reflecting on the history, legal treatment, and pervasiveness of intimate partner violence in the United States and Iowa, this Note analogizes to the United Kingdom to argue that Iowa should redefine the imminence requirement in its statute.
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