There are four main circumstances in which courts have historically permitted defendants to introduce evidence of battered spouse syndrome: claims of self-defense, claims of provocation, mitigation of sentencing, and appeals claiming ineffective counsel.
Defendants face several problems of proof in establishing self-defense using evidence of battered spouse syndrome. Most notably, defendants must demonstrate why they perceived imminent danger in a situation where a non-battered person may not believe the danger to be imminent.
Some states preclude using evidence of battered spouse syndrome to support a self-defense claim when the defendant kills or assaults a sleeping or resting intimate partner.
Unlike typical self-defense cases, defense experts offering evidence of battered spouse syndrome emphasize past occurrences as the lens through which to interpret the details surrounding the alleged crime.
Many jurisdictions permit evidence of battered spouse syndrome to be admitted to provide a reasonable explanation for the defendant's provocation in murder prosecutions.
In some jurisdictions, defendants offer evidence of battered spouse syndrome as a mitigating circumstance during sentencing.
Other courts and panels, however, reject battered spouse syndrome as a mitigating circumstance during sentencing.
A defense premised on battered spouse syndrome was all but impossible.
Judicial recognition of the validity of battered spouse syndrome resolves part one of the test; the reasonableness of a defendant's belief that harm was imminent.
Walker is one of the foremost authorities on battered spouse syndrome. Her research on the subject prompted the New Jersey Supreme Court to accept the syndrome as valid science in State v.
1993) (holding that expert testimony regarding the existence of battered spouse syndrome is admissible); also Rogers v.
 There is no reported Florida decision during this period where battered spouse syndrome was the basis of a successful defense for a woman who killed her abuser.