Sudden Anger and Founding a Partial Defense to Murder Essay

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Sudden Anger and Founding a Partial Defense to Murder

Provocation acts as a partial defence to murder, but only to reduce the conviction to manslaughter. The defence of provocation only becomes relevant when the prosecution can show evidence that proves that the defendant killed the victim with the necessary mens rea for murder, that is ‘an intention to kill or an intention to cause grievously bodily harm’.1 If the jury accepts that the defendant may have been provoked to lose his self control and that a reasonable person may have been provoked to lose his self control and do so as the defendant, they must acquit of murder and convict of manslaughter. This is known as the subjective and objective
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The alleged provocation was that a neighbour she was visiting produced a knife but not in a threatening way, but enough so to make her lose her self control, she then snatched the knife and stabbed the neighbour to death. The Court of Appeal agreed that it was ‘very difficult in such a case to distinguish between the gravity of the provocation and the accused's capacity for self-control which had been affected by the psychological stress of the violence she had suffered’. Tipping J., giving one of the majority judgments which held that the New Zealand statute on provocation (section 169 of the Crimes Act 1961) mandated the application of the distinction, said that it required "mental gymnastics." 4

In 1994 battered women's syndrome was included for the first time in the British classification of mental diseases. An appeal out of time was allowed in R v Hobson [1998] CA and a retrial ordered to consider the new medical evidence. In this case the defendant stabbed her abusive partner to death in 1992. It was held that battered wife syndrome was a mental disease and could cause abnormality of mind and so a re-trial was ordered

Battered woman syndrome was confirmed as a characteristic in R v Smith (Morgan) [2001] HL. In this case the defendant and the victim were alcoholics and friends. During an argument where the