All our services are free.
The National Clearinghouse works with victims of battering charged with killing their abusers, victims who have been coerced into criminal activity, and victims who have been charged with a crime as a result of "failing to protect" their children from their batterer's violence and/or abuse.
If, in the course of your work, you come in contact with a victim of battering charged with a crime (who might be facing trial or considering a plea, going through a trial, waiting to be sentenced, or whose case is on appeal) or a victim of battering who is in jail or prison, please contact the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women.
The National Clearinghouse provides specialized technical assistance and other resources to defense teams across the nation. Most frequently, we assist victims of battering who have
defended themselves and/or their children against their batterer’s violence and been charged with assault or homicide;
been coerced into criminal activity;
charged with a crime for allegedly "failing to protect" their children from their batterer's violence;
charged with kidnapping or custodial interference for fleeing to protect themselves and/or their children.
The staff of the National Clearinghouse, which includes three full-time staff members and other part-time consultants, will work with you to assess the situation and determine how we might be of assistance. We work directly with defense attorneys, expert witnesses, battered victim’s advocates, and the defendants themselves. We assist defense teams throughout the criminal legal process, from pre-trial preparation through the appeal,
identifying defense strategies,
providing relevant case law and sample litigation materials,
locating skilled expert witnesses if needed, and helping to identify support networks for victims of battering who are facing trial or going through the appeals process.
We do not provide legal representation to individuals.
If the victim of battering is charged with a crime
Our staff assists the members of a battered victims's defense team — defense attorneys, expert witnesses, battered victim's advocates, investigators, and the defendants themselves — by identifying defense strategies, providing relevant case law and examples of litigation materials, locating expert witnesses when needed/requested, and helping to identify support networks for victims of battering who are facing trial or whose cases are on appeal. We work with victims of battering charged with any crime in which their history of abuse is relevant (or potentially relevant) to their legal defense.
Types of cases
We work on a wide variety of cases, including those involving self-defense/defense of others, coercion and duress, crimes of omission (such as allegedly failing to protect one's children from a batterer's violence), and cases where the history and impact of abuse help to explain a defendant's behavior and/or rebut the mens rea element of the crime.
If the victim is in prison
If the victim has any legal options available, or is pursuing a clemency or parole application, we can assist their local counsel and/or advocates. We also correspond with hundreds of incarcerated people nationally.
If you or others in your state are working on a clemency campaign/clemency petitions
We maintain an extensive Resource Library of general information about clemency, as well as information about specific battered victim's clemency actions. Our staff can help advocates think through some of the ups and downs of clemency campaigns, and can provide information about other people who have worked on clemency issues in the past.
If your program/organization is currently running, or planning to run, a support group for victims in prison
Our staff will provide you with information about other support groups around the country. We can connect you with other group facilitators and give you information about curricula used by some of the groups.
If you or others in your state are thinking about introducing or has introduced legislation that directly impacts battered victims charged with crimes
Our staff will help you assess the current situation in your state, help analyze the proposed legislation, and provide information about similar legislation in other states.