Chapter 8
Partial defences and separate homicide offences


8.1We noted in Chapter 5 that there may be a legitimate need for the law to provide for greater recognition that the circumstances in which a victim of family violence kills their abuser mitigate the defendant’s culpability or blameworthiness for using violence. This could be done through a partial defence or separate homicide offence that operates to reduce a murder charge to a lesser conviction or through more flexible sentencing. Sentencing options are discussed in Chapter 9.

8.2In this chapter, we examine the options for partial defences and for a new separate homicide offence. These options recognise that, in certain circumstances, it is not appropriate that the defendant be convicted of murder. Instead, they should be convicted of a lesser crime that better reflects their culpability for the homicide.

8.3As noted in Chapter 1, our terms reference are limited to reviewing the law as it applies to victims of family violence who commit homicide. Thus, our consideration of any partial defence or separate homicide offence is limited to how it would apply to circumstances where a victim of family violence has killed their abuser. However, we recognise that the issues that are raised by any discussion of partial defences or separate homicide offences may have wider application.