Battered Woman’s Syndrome can be relied upon by the prosecution or by the defense in a domestic violence case, depending upon who is charged in that case. A criminal defense attorney may rely upon such a theory where their client is a female defendant, while a prosecutor may call an expert witness to testify as to this syndrome if the defendant is male and the female victim has recanted all or some of her story, or otherwise become uncooperative with the state’s case.
Battered Woman’s Syndrome is essentially a form of PTSD. Battered Woman’s Syndrome is a concept developed by Dr. Lenore Walker, which describes the mindset of an abused woman. According to Dr. Walker, there are four characteristics of the syndrome: the woman believes any violence is her fault, the woman is unable to place responsibility for the violence elsewhere, the woman fears for her life, and the woman has an irrational belief that her abuser is omnipotent. A battered woman may stay in an abusive relationship and may make allegations of domestic violence then recant hose allegations or even refuse to testify in court. In some domestic violence cases, the prosecution will endorse a Battered Woman’s Syndrome expert to testify in their case in chief.
The Battered Woman Defense uses these same concepts to explain the actions of a woman charged with domestic violence, often in very serious cases. In essence, a domestic violence defense lawyer putting forth this defense will argue that due to the constant emotional or physical abuse by their partner, a person may become unable to assert self independence and escape the situation, and that also due to this abuse may react in a certain way to triggering situations. To be clear, this is not a defense per se but may substantiate and contextualize a claim of self defense, or in some cases, may constitute mitigation, diminished responsibility, or provocation.
When facing charges of domestic violence, it is important to consult with and retain a domestic violence defense attorney whose practice focuses primarily on domestic violence cases, and the unique concerns such cases may raise, as well as either utilizing or fighting against the utilization of the Battered Woman’s Syndrome in this context.
To benefit from Denver criminal attorney Kimberly Diego’s vigorous attention to the law and commitment in regards to domestic violence cases, call 720.257.5346 for a free consultation or simply fill out the FREE CASE REVIEW form.