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Using The Battered Women’s Syndrome Defense In New York


If you have been accused of a violent crime against your husband or significant other, you may want to consider the “battered women’s syndrome defense.” Although this particular defense strategy may only be useful in certain situations, it can potentially help you avoid all criminal consequences for a violent act. In some cases, it has even led to acquittals for those accused of murder. What exactly is the battered women’s syndrome defense, and how can you use it when facing violent crime allegations in New York?

What Is Battered Women’s Syndrome? 

Also known simply as “BWS,” battered women’s syndrome is a psychological concept recognized by medical experts around the world. According to WebMD, BWS is not a psychological disorder but rather the “result” of living with intimate partner violence on a long-term basis. These results may manifest in various ways, but they almost always involve some degree of trauma. Many BWS patients also struggle with PTSD. Other symptoms include:

  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Hyper anxiety
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Dissociation

How Can I Use Battered Women’s Syndrome as a Defense Strategy? 

According to New York courts, the existence of BWS is not a “per se” defense to criminal charges. However, courts allow you to use BWS as supporting evidence as you argue for your innocence in court. Specifically, BWS is related to the concept of self-defense in New York. Courts understand that when a victim struggling with BWS becomes violent, they often do so only after enduring weeks, months, or years of abuse and coercion.

The Department of Justice states that battered women’s syndrome is a “legitimate defense,” pointing out that “a battered woman is virtually held hostage in a violent household.” When facing murder charges, those who implement this strategy may convince courts that “their only means of escaping life-threatening abuse is to kill their husbands.”

Does Battered Women’s Syndrome Only Apply to Women? 

According to the New York courts, the correct term for BWS is actually “abused person syndrome.” Courts agree that this syndrome is not exclusive to any one gender. Men can also suffer from abused person syndrome – as well as those who do not identify as any particular gender. The only real requirement is that you have a qualifying relationship with the person with whom you became violent. This might include:

  • Blood relatives
  • Spouses
  • Exes
  • Parents who share children
  • Anyone in “intimate relationships”

Find a Qualified, Experienced Violent Crime Defense Lawyer in Rockland County 

If you’ve been searching for a qualified, experienced New York City criminal defense lawyer, look no further than Phillip J. Murphy, Attorney at Law. Over the years, we have helped numerous defendants throughout Rockland County – including women accused of violent crimes. Under the right circumstances, battered women’s syndrome represents a legitimate defense strategy in New York. To explore this possibility further, be sure to book a consultation at your earliest convenience.





Contact Our Firm

Phillip J. Murphy,
Attorney At Law
Free Consultations Calls Answered and returned 24/7 Phone: (845) 639-6600 Fax: (845) 639-6620

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10 Esquire Road, Suite 10
New City, New York 10956

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Phillip J. Murphy, Attorney At Law is located in New City, New York and serves clients in and around New York, New Jersey & Connecticut. Contact our experienced criminal defense law firm.
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