Battered person’s syndrome is a mental disorder that is caused by serious and prolonged victimization of domestic abuse. Frequently called battered women’s syndrome or battered wife’s syndrome, this disorder became recognized in the 1990’s when experts discovered there was an increasing number of women who murdered their violent abusers.
It is important to note that while women are more frequently the victim of domestic violence, men can be victims too.
The following are common characteristics of someone suffering from battered person’s syndrome:
The most common use of battered person’s syndrome is as a complete defense to a crime against the abuser or as mitigation.
Mitigation does not prevent the defendant from being found guilty but after being found guilty, a battered person may be able to use the abuse as mitigation in sentencing. The fact that the defendant was a victim of an ongoing domestic violence situation may reduce the punishment.
There are two main ways to establish a defense for the battered criminal defendant. The first is the use of self-defense if the defendant was defending themselves from another act of violence by the abuser.
The second is using the battered person’s syndrome to explain why the defendant committed the crime and why the defendant saw no other option to escaping the abuse other than committing the crime.
Not all states recognize the battered person’s syndrome as a defense and while some do it may not be a complete defense. A complete defense results in a acquittal of the charges meaning the person is free to go after the trial or when the defense is accepted by the court.
In either case, it is important to use the following evidence:
Prosecutors can use the victim’s syndrome to explain their behavior before and during trial. For example, many abused persons recant their story and claim the abuse never happened or fail to report promptly when abuse does occur.
Domestic violence is a serious and dangerous situation. A family lawyer can assist with ongoing domestic abuse and offer legal options to escaping a violent relationship. If you have been charged with a crime against your abuser a qualified criminal lawyer can help you with a battered person’s defense or mitigation if it applies to your situation.
Last Modified: 03-28-2018 01:51 AM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.