Abuse victims who kill may avoid murder charge

  • 11/11/2015
Abuse victims who kill may avoid murder charge

Victims of family violence who kill their abusers may face a lesser charge than murder under a proposal put forward by the Law Commission.

The body that reviews the country's laws says a new partial defence for those who kill after being abused, which would reduce the charge to manslaughter, is being considered in an issues paper.

"When victims of family violence kill their abusers, they are often acting in response to years of physical, sexual and psychological abuse," said lead commissioner Wayne Mapp.

"These victims are usually charged with murder. Homicide is one of the most important areas of the criminal law and it may not adequately recognise the position of victims of family violence," he said.

The paper is also looking at whether the law of self-defence for victims of family violence should be reformed and if there should be changes to sentencing and evidence law.

Justice Minister Amy Adams asked the commission to look into how the criminal justice system responds to victims of family violence when they are charged with killing their abusive partners.

It came after the family violence death review committee found New Zealand was out of step in the way such cases were treated.

Submissions close on December 18 and the commission will report to Ms Adam by the end of March.