CRVAW Faculty Journal Articles


The Impact of Elements of Self-Defense and Objective Versus Subjective Instructions on Jurors' Verdicts for Battered Women Defendants


Battered woman defendants' claims of self-defense have often been viewed as not fitting the classic definition of self-defense. Vignettes of a legal case varied the explicitness of the threat made to the woman by her partner before she killed him, whether she had the opportunity to retreat, and objective versus subjective instructions by the judge. College students (N = 399) chose a verdict, identified variables that influenced their verdicts, and completed attitudinal measures. The opportunity for retreat increased the probability of a guilty verdict by 5 times. Objective juror instructions increased the odds of a guilty verdict by almost 2 times. Explicitness versus implicitness of the threat did not affect verdict choice nor did attitudes of mock jurors. Verdict choice was more influenced by details about the abuse than personal traits of the husband or wife or reports from authorities.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Journal of Interpersonal Violence, v. 12, no. 5, p. 729-747.

Dr. Diane Follingstad had not been a faculty member of the University of Kentucky at the time of publication.

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