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Hastings Women’s Law Journal

Abstract

A quantitative and qualitative examination of seventy-three domestic homicide cases in California suggests that, to the extent women and men commit domestic homicide in different ways and for different reasons, their outcomes at trial are different. Women were more likely to receive weapons enhancements because of their constrained options vis-a-vis weapon choice. However, women who are able to show prior aggression by their male partners may receive lesser sentences than their male and female counterparts even though they are still convicted of an unlawful killing, i.e., when they are unable to prove perfect self-defense. This Note argues that the extent to which a woman's behavior fits into traditional positive and negative conceptions of female behavior seems to have a relationship to the seriousness of the offense for which she is found guilty. Weapons enhancements should be reevaluated in the context of domestic homicide as the current system, aimed at deterring weapon use in violent street crime, disproportionately affects women in domestic homicide prosecutions.

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