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Court Hears Battered Parent Defense

A New York Criminal Lawyer says that domestic violence comes in all shapes and sizes. Fifty years ago, domestic violence cases were not recognized. In many cases the victims of domestic violence were ignored. It was a dirty family secret that few people talked about. The victims were ignored. It was not until the late 1980s and into the 1990s that the psychology of domestic violence was finally studied. Now, courts often hear evidence related to the fear associated with being battered in domestic violence. Several syndromes are common place in court rooms today: battered child syndrome, battered wife’s syndrome, and battered women’s syndrome. Crimes against the elderly do not get as much attention. In fact, it has only been in recent years that some states have begun to recognize that the psychological issues associated with being battered are not gender specific. Their wives or their children can batter men. In fact, many states have enacted additional statutes that are designed to protect the elderly from being battered by their children by changing the language of their battering laws to make them non gender specific.

In New York, in 1999, there had never been a case that involved a father being battered by his child. On June 21, 1999, a man who had been arrested for the murder of his adult son, filed a CP: 250.10 notice to the court that he would be offering a battered defense at trial. He requested that his medical expert on the subject be allowed to testify on his behalf. A New York Criminal Lawyer said the District Attorney assigned to the case stated that the state of New York did not recognize a defense of Battered Parent Syndrome. The District Attorney further stated that even if Battered Parent Syndrome did occur, a medical expert would not be necessary because most jurors have the ordinary training and intelligence to evaluate if the person is suffering from that syndrome.

The defense argued that since battered parent syndrome is not normally referred to by the general public, it is necessary to have an expert explain the correlation between battered parent syndrome and other battered syndromes. By showing the jurors that other states have already begun to recognize this condition as non-gender specific, it becomes easier for them to relate to the defendant.

Since this defendant is asserting a claim of justification for killing his adult son, a jury must decide if his actions were reasonable under the circumstances. Since the defendant in this case is claiming that his state of mind was an issue in the commission of the crime, the jury must be able to determine reasonableness within the context of the defendant’s subjective belief rather than their own. It is up to the court to decide if expert testimony is admissible at trial. It usually hinges on three questions: first, is the medical knowledge recognized as true in the field so as to permit a reasonable opinion of an expert in the field; second, does the expert have knowledge or skill that is not within the ordinary training or intelligence of the average juror; third, is the testimony relevant.

The court recognized that other jurisdictions have already accepted that being battered is non-gender specific and that there are somewhat predictable patterns to the behavior of the person who has been battered. Because the perception of a person who has been battered may rely on past experiences with the batterer, it is important to be able to admit this evidence at trial. The trial court agreed and allowed the testimony to be presented by the expert witness.

Whether you have been charged with a sex crime, theft, or drug possession, contact Stephen Bilkis and Associates for advice and a free consultation.

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