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Since the late 1970s, courts have been forced to deal with the question of whether and how the Battered Woman Syndrome can be used in a defense when a battered victim kills her abuser. The application of traditional self-defense law to these situations has proven problematic and resulted in a lack of uniformity regarding the disposition of these cases. When a theory seems incapable of dealing with situations for which it was purportedly developed, a reexamination of the theory is warranted. This comment focuses on whether imminence is a necessary condition in a claim of self-defense or if there are other legitimate ways to prove that a killing was necessary such that we, as a society, would consider it justified. This comment starts with an analysis of the relationship between imminence and necessity. And, after reviewing traditional imminence based self-defense law, and other doctrines which indicate that there is more to necessity than merely imminence, certain principles emerge. These principles are then applied to a claim of necessity arising in the context of a non-confrontational killing by a battering victim.

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Northern Illinois University Law Review

Suggested Citation

Jeffrey B. Murdoch, Comment, Is Imminence Really Necessity? Reconciling Traditional Self-defense Doctrine with The Battered Woman Syndrome, 20 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 191 (2000).

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