Did Defensive Homicide in Victoria Provide a Safety Net for Battered Women Who Kill? A Case Study Analysis

Monash Law Review, Vol. 42(1), p. 138-178, 2016

41 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2016

See all articles by Charlotte King

Charlotte King

University of Canberra

Lorana Bartels

Australian National University (ANU) - ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods

Patricia L. Easteal

University of Canberra - School of Law and Justice

Anthony Hopkins

University of Canberra – Faculty of Law; ANU College of Law

Date Written: August 3, 2016

Abstract

This article seeks to draw conclusions about the potential impact of the Crimes Amendment (Abolition of Defensive Homicide) Act 2014 (Vic). We do so by considering whether defensive homicide served as a safety net in the 2014 case of Director of Public Prosecutions (Vic) v Williams. The article presents a detailed analysis of the trial transcript and sentencing remarks to support the contention that the defence did in fact achieve this purpose. The conclusion rests, principally, upon understanding the jury finding that Williams killed in the belief that her actions were necessary for her own protection, but apparently determined that she had no reasonable grounds for that belief (thereby failing the legal test of self-defence as it then stood). Having looked at how the 2014 legislation also amended relevant evidence laws, and reinforced jury directions to accommodate considerations of family violence, we then consider the implications of these reforms for battered women who kill. We suggest that, in the absence of the offence of defensive homicide, women like Williams may in the future be convicted of murder, even when they kill in response to family violence and with a genuine belief that their actions are necessary in self-defence.

Suggested Citation

King, Charlotte and Bartels, Lorana and Easteal, Patricia L. and Hopkins, Anthony, Did Defensive Homicide in Victoria Provide a Safety Net for Battered Women Who Kill? A Case Study Analysis (August 3, 2016). Monash Law Review, Vol. 42(1), p. 138-178, 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2818116

Charlotte King

University of Canberra ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

Lorana Bartels

Australian National University (ANU) - ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods ( email )

Beryl Rawson Building (13)
Canberra, ACT 0200
Australia

Patricia L. Easteal (Contact Author)

University of Canberra - School of Law and Justice ( email )

Australia

Anthony Hopkins

University of Canberra – Faculty of Law ( email )

Australia

ANU College of Law

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

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