The issue here was whether a partner's experience of domestic violence during her former relationships could be seen as a mitigating circumstance in connection with the partner's manslaughter of her new partner. A (female) had killed B (male) by making a deadly strike with a kitchen knife. Before the strike A had flailed the knife in a way which caused several marks on B's body. A and B were arguing on the night of the stabbing. A claimed that B had never before been violent towards A, but in A's former relationships A had experienced domestic violence. The District Court found that the fact that there was a plastic bag behind the living room sofa containing knives collected from the house could suggest that there was a threat of violence. It found that there were some indications of justifiable defense and sentenced A to prison for 8 years 6 months for manslaughter. The Court of Appeal held that B had attacked A unlawfully, causing A the need for self-defense. However, it found that the use of a knife in the situation was not justifiable, as A did not receive any grave wounds except for bruises. The Court found that A was guilty of excessive self-defense. According to Chapter 20 Section 3 of the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the "Criminal Code"), if the manslaughter, in view of the exceptional circumstances of the offense, the motives of the offender or other related circumstances, when assessed as a whole, is to be deemed committed under mitigating circumstances, the offender shall be sentenced for killing to imprisonment for at least four and at most ten years. The Finnish government proposal (94/1993) for the Criminal Code states that these kind of exceptional circumstances can be present when a wife has been constantly terrorized with violence by her husband and she kills him. The Court held that A had a traumatic background and had experienced domestic violence but that there had not been, according to A, any previous violence by B towards A. The Court did not consider this an exceptional circumstance. A was sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter committed as excessive self-defense.




Court of Appeal of Vaasa

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