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The COVID-19 pandemic ignited a shadow pandemic of violence within homes, as lockdowns caused incidents of domestic abuse to grow exponentially across the globe. Batterers abuse their partners both emotionally and physically, and some even force their partners to commit crimes. Nevertheless, when law enforcement charges battered people with the crimes they committed, some courts exclude evidence related to battering and therefore do not allow these victims to tell their story of abuse to a jury. On July 30, 2021, in United States v. Dingwall, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that evidence of battering and its effects may be admitted into evidence to support a defense of duress. Similar to the Sixth, D.C., and Ninth Circuits, the Seventh Circuit in Dingwall explained that evidence of battering and its effects may assist a jury in evaluating the reasonable person standard, an essential element of the duress defense. Contrastingly, the Fifth and Tenth Circuits exclude this type of evidence, finding that its consideration would make the jury’s assessment of an objectively reasonable person too subjective. This Note overviews the reasoning of federal circuit courts on both sides of the circuit split and, ultimately, asserts that the Seventh Circuit’s ruling in Dingwall is correct because it conforms best with the reasonable person standard and, as a result, generates fairness in criminal cases for victims of domestic abuse.


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  • Subject
    • Criminal Law

    • Domestic Law

    • Evidence

  • Journal title
    • Boston College Law Review

  • Volume
    • 64

  • Issue
    • 4

  • Pagination
    • 995-1037

  • Date submitted

    28 April 2023

  • Official Link