Criminal Law Provisions

Last updated May 2010
 
Procedure and Evidence

Criminal Penalties and Procedures
 
Legislation should state the penalties for all acts of domestic violence, including those involving low-level injuries. Legislation should not allow for payment of bride price or dowry as defenses to charges of domestic violence.
 
 
Evidence
 

Legislation should provide that medical or forensic evidence is not required for domestic violence convictions.

Legislation should prevent the introduction of the survivor’s sexual history in both civil and criminal proceedings either during the trial or during the sentencing phase.

Legislation should state that a survivor, including a minor survivor, may receive a medical and forensic examination regardless of whether or not the survivor reports to law enforcement.  In countries with mandatory reporting laws, legislation should require mandatory reporters to provide a full explanation of laws and policies to the survivor when a report is required.
 
Legislation should state that the survivor, including a minor survivor, may be examined and treated by a forensic doctor or other medical practitioner without the consent of any other person.
Legislation should state when the survivor is referred for medical examination, the examination should be done at the expense of the state.
 
Legislation should allow the presentation of expert testimony on domestic violence. Jurors who are exposed to relevant social and psychological research on domestic violence are more likely to understand the dynamics of domestic violence, power and control tactics, and the dynamics of victimization. Experts could assist the court in explaining such victim actions as recantation, returning to an abuser, or demonstrating ambivalence about prosecution of an abuser
 
Legislation should provide that a court may not distinguish between the weight given to the testimony of a complainant in a domestic violence case and the weight given to the testimony of any other witnesses.
 
 
Prompt Complaint
 
Legislation should state that no adverse inference shall be drawn from a delay between the act of violence and the reporting of the act of violence. The judicial officer should be required by the legislation to so inform the jury.