News State Victoria News Defensive homicide laws axed

Defensive homicide laws axed

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The Victorian Government will abolish the defensive homicide law that it says has led to killers escaping murder convictions.

The Government is also bringing in simpler tests for self-defence claims and new jury directions on family violence under changes to be introduced to the Parliament this week.

Attorney-General Robert Clark said the defensive homicide law was supposed to help victims of domestic violence, but it was not working.

“The law was supposed to help family violence victims, but instead it’s been hijacked by violent men who’ve been able to get away with murder,” he said.

“It’s been wide open to offenders to use it to escape responsibility where they deserve to be convicted of murder.”

Mr Clark said if a person acts in self-defence in a “genuine” and “reasonable” way, they would be entitled to be fully acquitted.

“But if their actions weren’t reasonable, they’ll be convicted of murder as they should be,” he said.

The changes also include simpler tests for self-defence claims, as under the current law the burden of proof remains on the prosecution to disprove the self-defence argument.

“That’s often been impossible, meaning the accused has been able to escape a conviction for murder,” Mr Clark said.

Directions to juries will also be simplified so they are better equipped to understand how to deal with family violence cases.

The changes will be introduced this week with the Government hoping to get it passed early in the spring sitting.