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March 27, 2013

DWU’s Weins describes victims’ self-defense laws in soon-to-be released encyclopedia on domestic abuse

MITCHELL — Jesse Weins, assistant professor of criminal justice at Dakota Wesleyan University, will have an article published in the Encyclopedia of Domestic Violence and Abuse this summer.

The encyclopedia, edited by Laura Finley of Barry University, is a 950-page book about domestic violence due for publication in July by ABC-CLIO, a publisher of curriculum and reference materials.

Weins’s article, “Victim’s Self-defense,” highlights the laws and legal ramifications of self-defense, specifically in the case of women. He states: “To claim self-defense, a domestic abuse victim must prove that her violent act toward her batterer was necessary and reasonable under the circumstances.”

The article focuses on when physical defense may be necessary: “For force to be considered necessary, states traditionally require that it be immediately necessary, needed right now. If the harm will not happen for a while, then force is not yet justified, since arguably it may never happen or may be avoided. This has presented special difficulties in cases of battered women. Oftentimes, victims are repeatedly abused in a cycle where further abuse is all but assured. In such cases, it has been argued by many scholars that a victim may have reasonably believed it was necessary to act, even if a response did not appear immediately necessary. In other words it may be reasonable and necessary for a woman to act pre-emptively.”

He notes, however, that such a broad view of the defense has not won over many courts or juries, and he stresses the state-by-state differences in this area. 

Weins earned his bachelor’s degree from DWU in 2003 and graduated with distinction in 2007 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law, where he served as an executive editor of the Nebraska Law Review and a symposium issue editor of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy.

His work has appeared in the Tennessee Law Review, the Nebraska Law Review and the Journal of Medicine & Law, and has been recognized by a U.S. federal district court, USA Today and The New York Times.


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Last updated: 3/28/13