University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series
Last Updated: 8 February 2013
Battered women charged with homicide in Australia, Canada and New Zealand: How do they fare?
Elizabeth Sheehy, University of Ottawa
Julie Stubbs, University of New South Wales
Julia Tolmie, University of Auckland
This paper is available for download at Available at
This paper was published as Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology December 2012 45: 383-399. This paper may also be referenced as  UNSWLRS 8.
This article examines trends in the resolution of homicide cases involving battered women defendants from 2000 to 2010 in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Australia and Canada appear to have some commonalities in their treatment of such cases with higher acquittal rates and a greater reliance on plea bargaining to produce manslaughter verdicts, as compared with New Zealand. Although New Zealand’s small number of cases makes it difficult to generalise, its overall trends appear to be different from those observed in Australia and Canada, in both the high proportion of cases proceeding to trial and those resulting in conviction for murder. The authors conclude that there is a need to re-examine prosecutorial practices of proceeding to trial on murder rather than manslaughter charges even when manslaughter would be ultimately satisfactory to the prosecution, and of accepting guilty pleas to manslaughter verdicts in circumstances where the battered woman appears to have a strong self-defence case.