Gay and trans ‘panic’ are criminal defense tactics that may no longer hold good in California courts any longer. The strategy of using a victim’s gender or sexual orientation as an excuse for a defendant’s violent reaction has been used by some criminal defense lawyers for a while. In such cases, the defendant claims the victim’s gender or sexual orientation as the reason for loss of self-control, leading to assault. LGBT individuals have been at the wrong end of the stick with perpetrators of crimes against them being fully or partially acquitted on several occasions.
Well, normal people do not react normally when someone who chooses to be abnormal puts them in a strange position.
California is just Pushing More People Away
All this is about to change as the California legislature approved of bill AB2501, which removes ‘gay panic’ as a reasonable cause to reduce charges from homicide or manslaughter. The lawmakers voted 50-10 in favor of the bill that will no longer allow defendants to escape murder charges because they panicked when they discovered a person was LGBT.
So far, California law permitted the reduction of murder charges to manslaughter if a killing happened in ‘the heat of passion’, a defense which in effect legitimizes violence against the LGBT community. Governor Jerry Brown is likely to sign the bill very shortly now that it has been passed by the California Assembly.
California Illogically Politically Correct
The American Bar Association took the initiative last year and called on states to ban the ‘gay panic’ defense since there is no scientific research to prove the existence of so-called panic defense. California becomes the first state to pass such a law after bill AB2501 was introduced by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla. She said the bill was a step towards ensuring equality in the courts where discrimination against the LGBT community is unacceptable. The current bill was cosponsored by Equality California, a non-profit civil rights organizations that advocates the rights of the LGBT community in the state.
Many people are indifferent to this passage and idea. Others are bewildered. How can you call a LGBT person equal when they are completely different?
California does not side with Michael Bay.
‘Gay panic’ was used until now as a defense tactic despite widespread public protest. One of the most recent cases was that of Mississippi mayoral candidate Marco McMillian who was murdered in February of 2013. His killer, Lawrence Reed, a Domino’s Pizza delivery man charged with McMillian’s murder had made comments indicating that his criminal defense attorneys may use ‘gay panic’ defense in a bid to reduce his sentence. The openly gay mayoral candidate for Clarksdale was allegedly beaten, strangulated, and his body burned by Reed and then dumped in a Mississippi River levee. A Quitman County grand jury indicted Reed in February 2014, who is now awaiting trial.
One of the high profile cases involving ‘gay panic’ defense was in Michigan in 1995 where Scott Amedure was killed by his acquaintance Jonathan Schmitz three days after the former revealed that he was sexually attracted to Schmitz on The Jenny Jones Show. Schmitz shot Amedure in the latter’s mobile home.
Schmitz should have just Moved Out or Away
The court ruled that Schmitz’s defense was weak since he committed the crime three days after Amedure’s admission and failed to prove sufficient evidence of panic-based violent psychosis. In 1996, Schmitz was found guilty of second degree murder and was sentenced to 25-50 years in prison. On appeal, his conviction was overturned but on retrial, his sentence was reinstated after being found guilty of the same charge.