Domestic violence victims may get defence for murder
By Patrick Lion
14 October 2008
Victims of domestic violence who kill their abuser will be able to claim a defence against murder or manslaughter charges under new laws.
The so-called "battered person" defence for homicide trials is scheduled to be introduced next year, after the Bligh Government approved changes to the Criminal Code.
The proposal comes after a recent Queensland Law Reform Commission
The move received mixed support from interest groups, but Attorney-General Kerry Shine described the overhaul as groundbreaking.
It would also apply to family violence involving adults, children and both genders.
"This is an important change that allows juries to specifically consider the impact that domestic violence or serious abuse in a relationship may have upon a person," Mr Shine said.
The law is expected to be introduced in the first half of next year while the Government considered its response to other recommendations.
The QLRC report recommended no changes to the excuse of accident but called for several changes to the partial defence of provocation.
Queensland Homicide Victims Support Group
"On the one hand, people ask is there ever a reason to take another's life?" Ms Bush said.
"On the other, when people are regularly beaten and subjected to life-threatening and humiliating experiences, they may not see any other option."
Queensland Bar Association
"The defence of provocation in NSW is broader than that in Queensland and we would welcome reform of these laws," he said.
Opposition justice spokesman Mike Horan said he wanted to see the detail but was concerned about murder defences based on past behaviour.
"Murder is murder and we have to be very careful. It may lull people into thinking they have the right to shoot or murder someone for things that have happened in the past," he said.
Should battery be a murder defence? Have your say. here: http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,20797,24489791-3102,00.html#comments