Abuse defense

From Academic Kids

The abuse defense, also called battered spouse defense in some U.S. jurisdictions (a term of jurisprudence), is a so-called "innovative defense" (perhaps better viewed as an excuse or justification); via which a defendant may argue that they should not be held criminally liable for breaking the law, as they were abused.

This is similar to the justification of self-defense and the excuse of provocation. According to the theory of battered woman's syndrome, women who suffer from domestic violence are unable to seek divorce and can, sometimes, be driven temporarily insane.

Lawyers have expanded this theory to cover a number of situations. In 1994, Moosa Hanoukai received a mitigated sentence (manslaughter) during a murder trial in which he argued that his wife had abused him. In 1996, the Menendez brothers were found guilty of murdering their parents, despite being the victims of sexual abuse.

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