Proposed reforms in the U.K. would provide a partial defense to victims of domestic abuse accused of killing their partners.
I know you’ve all been waiting for it, so here you go: Your daily update on the U.K.’s domestic-abuse defenses in murder cases. Or, rather, your 40-year update, since the U.K.’s murder laws haven’t been reexamined since hanging was outlawed in 1957.
But today, change is in the works. Proposals being unveiled today by the Ministry of Justice, reported on by the Guardian, would add two new partial defenses: “Killing in response to a fear of serious violence” and “killing in response to words or conduct which caused the defendant to have a justifiable sense of being seriously wronged.”
The proposed reforms, says the Guardian, were “triggered by concerns about the different treatment of men and women in cases of domestic violence … the view that it is too easy for men to say they killed female partners because of infidelity, or the ending of a relationship, while women with abusive partners find it hard to mount a similar partial defense.” Along the same lines, the reforms would also create a “more precise definition of diminished responsibility” and abolish a 17th century defense of “provocation” — thus providing a partial defense to someone who “loses control and kills from a justifiable sense of being seriously wronged by the victim’s conduct,” but ensuring that this defense “emphatically [would] not be available as a reaction to sexual infidelity,” says Vera Baird, the solicitor general.
An article in Monday’s Guardian gives a bit more context to these proposed changes — pointing out, for example, that “at present provocation can be cited only in cases where there is a loss of self-control or sudden loss of temper, for example in the face of an insult. A woman who, after suffering years of abuse by her partner, finally strikes back because she is in fear of further violence may not in law be found to have lost her self-control at that precise moment.” Therefore, the logic goes, she wouldn’t have the same access to a partial defense as would a man who had killed his wife after finding her in bed with another man. The difference is significant: With the proper partial defense, a charge of murder can be reduced to manslaughter.
It seems strange, at first glance, to think that the goal of these reforms is to provide more defenses for people who have killed their partners. But it does make a bit more sense in the context of the U.K., where there is no distinction, as there is in the United States, between first- and second-degree murder. (Adopting those distinctions was another proposal put forth in this round of reforms, but doesn’t seem likely to happen.) Keeping in mind that these reforms would not allow people to get off the hook for killing, but rather would provide a partial defense, what are your thoughts?
More Related Stories
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
- Watch: Family emerges from storm shelter after tornado
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- My miscarriages made me question being pro-choice
- Why I tried to be a punk
- I'm terrified of the cicada onslaught
- Limbaugh: No one willing to impeach the first black president
- SAT's right answers are all wrong
- Supreme Court to rule on prayer at government meetings
- Father of gay high school student arrested for dating classmate speaks out
- Conservatives A-OK with closeted Boy Scouts
- Horrifying new trend: Posting rapes to Facebook
- Corporate greed is poisoning America -- literally
- The new geography of poverty
- Childhood ADHD linked to obesity in adulthood
- Obama to all-male university graduates: Be the best husband to "your boyfriend or partner"
- Chicago man breaks world record with 48-hour Ferris wheel ride
- I will never be able to afford Angelina Jolie's mastectomy
- GOP attorney general candidate tried to force women to report miscarriages to police
- Stephen Colbert to UVA: "You must always make the path for yourself"
- GOP actually bullies an anti-bullying bill
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11