Survey of Washington Law: Criminal Law: Defenses

EXPERT TESTIVONY REGARDING THE BATTERED WOMAN’S SYNDROME IS ADMISSIBLE TO AID THE TRIER-OF-FACT IN EVALUATING ALL FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF A SELF-DEFENSE KILLING. State v. Allery, 101 Wn. 2d 591, 682 P.2d 312 (1984).

In State v. Allery, the Washington Supreme Court recognized the “battered woman’s syndrome” as sufficiently accepted in the scientific community, and because its complexity is outside a lay person’s competence, it is recognized as a proper subject for expert testimony in a criminal trial. The court overturned the second degree murder conviction of a battered woman, and determined that expert testimony relevant to the battered woman’s syndrome is admissible evidence and that self-defense instructions to the jury must make it manifestly clear to the average juror that acts in self-defense are to be considered from the defendant’s perspective.

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Constance J. Miller, Survey of Washington Law: Criminal Law: Defenses, 20 Gonz. L. Rev. 325 (1984).

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