THE VICTORIAN Government will introduce legislation designed to prevent unjustified claims of self-defence being used as a justification for murder later this week.
The legislation will see the offence of “defensive homicide” abolished and the introduction of a new test for self-defence which, according to Attorney-General Robert Clark, will be more difficult to use successfully.
“The law on defensive homicide has failed to work as intended and instead it is wide open to offenders using it to escape full responsibility where they deserve to be convicted of murder,” Attorney-General Robert Clark said in a media release.
“The law has proven difficult and confusing to apply in practice, leading to results that often seem unjust and contrary to common sense, where offenders who have inflicted horrific attacks on victims have nonetheless argued they acted in self-defence.
“Under defensive homicide, where an accused claims they acted in self-defence, the prosecution is required to disprove that claim beyond reasonable doubt, which has often been impossible, enabling the accused to escape a conviction for murder.
“Under the reforms we are introducing, where the prosecution can show that what the accused did was not a reasonable response in the circumstances the accused perceived, the accused will be convicted of murder.
“However, if what the accused did was a genuine and reasonable response in the circumstances as he or she perceived them, the accused will be acquitted.
“These reforms will make the law clearer, fairer and more straightforward, better protecting those who act genuinely and reasonably, while preventing those who deserve to be convicted from getting away with murder.”
The move comes after a Department of Justice consultation paper published late last year proposed the abolition of the offence.
Get free email updates from the South East Free Press
Read more Victorian Politics