Battered Person’s Syndrome

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Battered person’s syndrome, more commonly called “battered woman’s syndrome,” “battered women’s syndrome,” or “BWS,” is a recognized psychological condition that is used to describe someone who has been consistently and/or severely victimized by his or her partner. Although it usually refers to a woman, battered person’s syndrome can apply to a woman or a man involved in a heterosexual or homosexual relationship. Battered person’s syndrome in a domestic violence case is frequently used either to defend an abused woman or man’s actions or as evidence against his or her abuser if the abused victim later recants his or her allegations. This syndrome can carry a lot of weight before a jury and it is therefore imperative to hire a skilled defense lawyer from The Kavinoky Law Firm who is familiar with California domestic abuse cases should this syndrome and its effects be introduced into evidence.

There are four general characteristics of this syndrome which all focus on the abused believing that the violence is his or her fault and fearing for his or her safety and the safety of his or her children. In addition, the syndrome has three distinct phases that include the “tension-building” phase, the actual battery, and the “honeymoon” phase. In order to be diagnosed with battered person’s syndrome, the abused must have gone through all three phases at least twice.

If the abused has committed a crime, battered person’s syndrome may be introduced as a defense to the case. A knowledgeable attorney will likely hire an expert witness to testify that the abused either didn’t have the criminal mental intent that was necessary to commit the crime or that he or she honestly believed that force was needed in a particular situation to avoid a more serious injury or even death. If either of these scenarios sound familiar, it is crucial to contact an attorney immediately to begin building a defense based on this syndrome.

If, however, it is the prosecution who is introducing battered person’s syndrome as evidence against a defendant, it is vital for the defendant to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help exclude that evidence or, at the very least, to rebut it with a defense expert witness. A defense expert witness will help discredit the prosecution’s theory that the “victim” suffers from battered person’s syndrome and is simply using it as an excuse to bolster an otherwise weak case. The prosecution usually introduces the syndrome when its “star” witness – the “victim” – decides not to testify or cooperate. The prosecutor argues, usually through his or her expert witness, that the “victim” is recanting the allegations because he or she fears what might happen if he or she doesn’t. A defense expert will rebut that argument, addressing the many legitimate reasons why an accuser may change his or her story.

The bottom line is that battered person’s syndrome is a condition that the courts take very seriously. In today’s society with social awareness about intimate partner abuse constantly on the rise and the judicial response of increasing penalties for offenders, it is critical to hire an exceptional lawyer. The attorneys at The Kavinoky Law Firm have the training and experience to handle any domestic violence case. They have successfully defended countless cases with skill, discretion and compassion. Click here for a consultation and to secure the best representation available.

Darren Kavinoky
Darren Kavinoky
Founder at 1-800-NoCuffs
Darren Kavinoky is the founder of 1.800.NoCuffs–The Kavinoky Law Firm and is known as an award-winning criminal defense attorney.

The American Trial Lawyers Association has named him one of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in California” each year since 2007. Los Angeles magazine has identified Darren as a “SuperLawyer” every year since 2010. Darren received an “AV Preeminent Rating” by Martindale-Hubbell (a peer review ranking that signals the highest level of professional excellence and ethics); a perfect 10.0 Rating by (an independent attorney ranking site), and many other accolades.