Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 425–441 | Cite as

Premenstrual syndrome as a criminal defense

  • James W. Lewis
Article

Abstract

Premenstrual syndrome may be effective as an affirmative defense to a criminal charge if the defendant can show that (i) she was suffering from premenstrual syndrome at the time the crime was committed; and (ii) because of her condition, either that the criminal act was an involuntary act or that at the time of the criminal act she did not possess the mental state required by law for the commission of a crime. Premenstrual syndrome has been successfully pleaded as a criminal defense in Great Britain but has not been tested in American criminal courts. It may now be possible, however, because of the increase of behavioral, psychological, and physiological studies precisely characterizing premenstrual syndrome and elucidating the necessary criteria for its accurate diagnosis, for the appropriate defendant to assert this defense in an American court. This paper discusses (i) the use of recent scientific data to demonstrate the existence of premenstrual syndrome; (ii) the use of standardized psychological tests or physiological assays to demonstrate that the defendant suffers from premenstrual syndrome; and, (iii) the legal choices to be made and evidentiary hurdles that must be overcome in presenting a premenstrual syndrome defense.

Key Words

premenstrual syndrome aggressive behavior criminal behavior aggression violence 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. American Law Institute. (1962).Model Penal Code, American Law Institute, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  2. American Law Reports. (1968 and Suppl. 1982). Mental or emotional condition as diminishing responsibility for crimes,Am. Law Rep.: Cases Annot. 22 A.L.R.3d 1128.Google Scholar
  3. American Psychiatric Association. (1987).Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3rd ed., Rev., A.P.A., Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  4. Andersch, B., and Hahn, L. (1985). Progesterone treatment of premenstrual tension: A double blind study.J. Psychosom. Res. 29: 489–493.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ashby, C. R., Carr, L. A., Cook, C. L., Steptoe, M. M., and Franks, D. D. (1988). Alteration of platelet serotonergic mechanisms and monamine oxidase activity in premenstrual syndrome.Biol. Psychiat., 24: 225–233.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Backstrom, T., and Carstensen, H. (1974). Estrogen and progesterone in plasma in relation to premenstrual tension.J. Steroid Biochem. 5: 257–260.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Backstrom, T., Sander, D., and Laesk, R. (1983). Mood, sexuality, hormones and the menstrual cycle II: Hormone levels and their relationship to premenstrual syndrome.Psychosom. Med. 45: 503–507.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Barefoot v. Estelle. 463 U.S. 880, 920 (Blackmun, dissent) 1982.Google Scholar
  9. Benedak-Jaszmann, L. J., and Hern-Sturtevant, M. D. (1976). Premenstrual tension and functional infertility.Lancet 1: 1095–1098.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Berreby, D. (1982). PMS case ends with guilty plea.Natl. Law J. Nov. 15, at 36, col. 1.Google Scholar
  11. Blundell, J. E. (1984). Serotonin and appetite.Neuropharmacology 23: 1537–1551.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brown, G. L., Goodwin, F. K., and Bunney, W. E. Jr. (1982). Human aggression and suicide: Their relationship to neuropsychiatric diagnoses and serotonin metabolism, In Ho, B. Y., Schoolar, J. C., and Usdin, E. (eds.),Advances in Biochemistry and Pharmacology, Vol. 34, Raven Press, New York, pp. 287–306.Google Scholar
  13. Brush, M. G. (1977). The possible mechanics causing the premenstrual tension syndrome.Curr. Med. Res. Opinion Suppl 4: 9–15.Google Scholar
  14. Chiat, L. (1986). Premenstrual syndrome and our sisters in crime: A feminist dilemma.Women's Rights Law Rep. 9: 267–293.Google Scholar
  15. Chihal, H. J. (1987). Indications for drug therapy in premenstrual syndrome patients.J. Reprod. Med. 32: 449–452.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Chuong, C. J., Colligan, R. C., Coulam, C. B., and Bergstralh, E. J. (1988). The MMPI as an aid in evaluating patients with premenstrual syndrome.Psychosomatics 29: 197–202.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Cleary, E. W. (ed.). (1984).McCormick on Evidence, 3d. ed., West Publishing Co., St. Paul, MN.Google Scholar
  18. Dalton, K. (1960). Menstruation and accidents.Brit. Med. J. 1960: 1425–1426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dalton, K. (1980) Cyclical criminal acts in premenstrual syndrome.Lancet 1: 1070–1071.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dalton, K. (1984). Definition. InThe Premenstrual Syndrome and Progesterone Therapy, 2nd ed., Year Book Medical, Chicago, pp. 3–9.Google Scholar
  21. Dalton, K. (1986). Premenstrual syndrome.Hamline Law Rev. 9: 143–154.Google Scholar
  22. Diliberto Jr., R. A. (1986). Premenstrual stress syndrome defense: Legal, medical and social aspects.Med. Trial Tech. Quart. 35: 351–359.Google Scholar
  23. Edwards v. Ford, 69 G.App. 578 (1923).Google Scholar
  24. Endo, M. Daiguji, M., Asano, Y., Yamashita, I., and Takahashi, S. (1978). Periodic psychosis recurring in association with menstrual cycle.J. Clin. Psychiat. 39: 456–466.Google Scholar
  25. Fennell, T. (1984). Premenstrual shoplifting: Two PMS illness pleas bring justice with mercy.Alberta Report, May 7, pp. 30–34.Google Scholar
  26. Floody, O. R. (1983). Hormones and aggression in female mammals. In Svare, B. B. (ed.),Hormones and Agressive Behavior, Plenum Press, New York.Google Scholar
  27. Frank, R. T. (1931). The hormonal causes of premenstrual tension,Arch. Neurol. Psychiat. 26: 1053–1057.Google Scholar
  28. Freeman, E. W., Sondheimer, S. J., and Rickels, K. (1988). Effects of medical history factors on symptom severity in women meeting criteria for premenstrual syndrome.Obstet. Gynecol. 72: 236–239.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (1923, D.C. Cir.).Google Scholar
  30. Fulcher v. Wyoming, 633 P.2d 142 (1981).Google Scholar
  31. Ganten, D., and Pfaff, D. (1985).Actions of Progesterone on the Brain, Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  32. Halbreich, U., Endicott, J., Goldstein, S.,et al. (1976). Serum prolactin in women with premenstrual tension.Lancet 2: 654–656.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Halbreich, U., Endicott, J., and Schacht, S. (1982a). Premenstrual syndromes: A new instrument for their assessment.J. Psychiat. Treat. Eval. 4: 161–164.Google Scholar
  34. Halbreich, U., Endicott, J., Schacht, S., and Nee, J. (1982b). The diversity of premenstrual changes as reflected in the Premenstrual Assessment Form.Acta Psychiat. Scand. 65: 46–65.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Halbreich, U., Endicott, J., Goldstein, S.,et al. (1986). Premenstrual changes and changes in gonadal hormones.Acta Psychiat. Scand. 74: 576–586.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Halbreich, U., Holtz, I., and Paul, L. (1988). Premenstrual changes: Impaired hormonal homeostasis.Neurol. Clin. 6: 173–194.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Hartman, E., Chung, R., and Chien, C. (1971). L-tryptophan and sleep.Psychopharmacologia 19: 114–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hathaway, S. R., and McKinley, J. C. (1940). A multiphasic personality schedule (Minnesota): I. Construction of the schedule.J. Psychol. 10: 249–255.Google Scholar
  39. Heggestad, K. A. (1986). The devil made me do it: The case against using premenstrual syndrome as a defense in a court of law.Hamline Law Rev. 9: 155–163.Google Scholar
  40. Holtzman, E. (1986). Premenstrual symptoms: No legal defense.St. John's Law Rev. 60: 712–715.Google Scholar
  41. Hopson, J. and Rosenfeld, A. (1984). PMS: Puzzling monthly symptoms.Psychology Today, August, pp. 30–38.Google Scholar
  42. In re Irvin, 31 B.R. 251 (Bkrtcy. 1983).Google Scholar
  43. Jakubowicz, D. L., Godard, F., and Dewhurst, J. (1984). The treatment of premenstrual tension with mefanamic acid: Analysis of prostaglandin concentration.Br. J. Obstet. Gynaecol. 91: 78–86.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Janowsky, D. S., and Rausch, J. (1985). Biochemical hypotheses of premenstrual tension syndrome.Psychol. Med. 15: 3–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Johnson, S. R., McChesney, C., and Bean, J. A. (1988). Epidemiology of premenstrual symptoms in a nonclinical sample: I. Prevalence, natural history, and help-seeking behavior.J. Reprod. Med. 33: 340–346.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Kirsch, M. A., and Geer, J. H. (1988). Skin conductance and heart rate in women with premenstrual syndrome.Psychosom. Med. 50: 175–182.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Lapin, I. P., and Oxenkrug, G. F. (1969). Intensification of the central serotonergic processes as possible determinant of the thymoleptic effect.Lancet, 1: 132–135.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Loosen, P. T. (1985). The TRH induced TSH response in psychiatric patients: A possible neuroendocrine marker.Psychoneuroendocrinology 10: 237–260.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Maddocks, S., Hahn, P., Moller, F.,et al. (1986). A double blind placebo controlled trial of progesterone vaginal suppositories in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome.Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol., 154: 573–581.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Matter of Parshall, 406 N.W.2d 913 (Mich.App. 1987).Google Scholar
  51. M'Naghten's Case, 10C1 & F 200, 8 Eng. Rep 718 (H.L. 1843).Google Scholar
  52. Moos, R. H. (1968). The development of a menstrual distress questionnaire.Psychosom. Med. 30: 853–867.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Mundy, M. R., Brush, M. G., and Taylor, R. W. (1981). Correlations between progesterone, oestradiol and aldosterone levels in the premenstrual syndrome.Clin. Endocrinol. 14: 1–9.Google Scholar
  54. Oakes, R. T. (1986). PMS: A plea bargain in Brooklyn does not a rule of law make.Hamline Law Rev. 9: 203–217.Google Scholar
  55. O'Brien, P. M. (1985). The premenstrual syndrome: A review.J. Reprod. Med. 30: 113–126.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Pahl-Smith, C. (1984/1985). Premenstrual syndrome as a criminal defense: The need for a medicolegal understanding.N.C. Central Law Rev. 15: 246–273.Google Scholar
  57. People v. Grant, 46 Ill.App. 3d 125 (1977).Google Scholar
  58. People v. Magnus, 155 N.Y.S. 1013 (1915).Google Scholar
  59. People v. Newton, 8 Cal.App. 3d 359 (1970).Google Scholar
  60. People v. Santos, (unreported, 1K046229, New York Criminal Court, Nov. 3, 1982).Google Scholar
  61. People v. White, (Crim. No. 98663, Cal Super. Ct., S. F. County, 1979) (unreported).Google Scholar
  62. Rapkin, A. J., Chang, L. C., and Reading, A. E. (1988). Comparison of retrospective and prospective assessment of premenstrual symptoms.Psychol. Rep. 62: 55–60.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Regina v. Craddock (1 C.L. 49, 1981)Google Scholar
  64. Regina v. English (unreported, cited in Chiat, 1986)Google Scholar
  65. Regina v. Smith, Criminal Law Review 531, 1982.Google Scholar
  66. Reid, R. L. (1985). Premenstrual syndrome.Curr. Prob. Obstet. Gynecol. Fertil. 8: 21–24.Google Scholar
  67. Reid v. Florida Real Estate Comm'n, 188 So.2d 846 (Fla. 1986).Google Scholar
  68. Reuben, C. (1984). PMS, Part II: Causes,L.A. Weekly, pp. 75–76.Google Scholar
  69. Riley, T. L. (1986). Premenstrual syndrome as a legal defense.Hamline Law Rev. 9: 193–202.Google Scholar
  70. Roberts, M. H. T. (1984). 5-Hydroxytryptamine and antinociception.Neuropharmacology 23: 1529–1536.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Rosen, L. N., Moghadam, L. Z., and Endicott, J. (1988). Psychosocial correlates of premenstrual dysphoric subtypes.Acta Psychiat. Scand. 77: 446–453.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  72. Roy-Byrne, P. P., Rubinow, D. R., and Hoban, M. C. (1988). TSH and prolactin responses to TRH in patients with premenstrual syndrome.Am. J. Psychiat. 145: 581–588.Google Scholar
  73. Siegel, J. P., Myers, B. J., and Dinnen, M. K. (1987). Premenstrual tension syndrome symptom clusters: Statistical evaluation of the subsyndromes.J. Reprod. Med. 32: 395–399.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  74. Stahl, S. M. (1977). The human platelet: Diagnostic and research tool for the study of biogenic amines in psychiatric and neurologic disorders.Arch. Gen. Psychiat. 34: 509–516.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  75. State v. Caddell, 287 N.C. 266 (1975).Google Scholar
  76. State v. Gooze, 14 N.J. Super. 277 (1951).Google Scholar
  77. State v. Lashwood, 384 N.W.2d 319 (S.D. 1986).Google Scholar
  78. State v. Pike, 49 N.H. 399 (1870).Google Scholar
  79. Swanson v. State, 759 P.2d 898 (Idaho 1988).Google Scholar
  80. Taylor, J. W. (1979). Plasma progesterone, oestradiol 17 beta and premenstrual symptoms.Acta Psychiat. Scand. 60: 76.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  81. Taylor, L., and Dalton, K. (1983). PMS: A new criminal defense?California West Law Rep. 19: 269–287.Google Scholar
  82. Tingen v. Tingen, 251 Or. 438 (1968).Google Scholar
  83. Trimble, J., and Fay, M. (1986). PMS in today's society.Hamline Law Rev. 9: 183–192.Google Scholar
  84. United States v. Hinckley (525 F. Supp. 1342 (D.D.C. 1981), op. clarified, recon. denied, 529 F.Supp. 520 (D.D.C. 1982), aff'd 672 F.2d 115 (D.D. Cir. 1982).Google Scholar
  85. Wood, N. F., Most, A., and Dery, G. K. (1982). Prevalence of perimenstrual symptoms.Am. J. Public Health 72: 1257–1264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • James W. Lewis
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Law and Department of PsychologyUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos Angeles
  2. 2.Jackson & AssociatesSanta Monica

Personalised recommendations