Domestic violence is a terrible problem in the U.S., but, in some cases, people are wrongfully accused. The penalties associated with domestic violence can be severe, so mounting a strong legal defense can be critical.

Domestic violence is an umbrella term that refers generally to specific underlying criminal offenses you may be charged with, including:

  • Assault
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Violation of a protective order

An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to present one or more defenses to a domestic violence charge brought against you. This article provides general information on five such common defenses, but you should consult an attorney to receive specific legal advice based on your unique case.


In Colorado, self-defense is an affirmative defense that may be applicable to your case, depending on the facts. If your partner repeatedly struck you, came at you with a knife, or otherwise attacked you, you may be entitled to respond with proportionate force to defend yourself — depending on your jurisdiction. You may also be able to argue that you were defending a child or family member. If police find defensive wounds on you and document them, or if you document them yourself, you may be able to present that evidence to support a self-defense argument. Your attorney will be able to tell you more about whether this defense may apply.

Police Misconduct/Violation of Your Rights

Sometimes, police officers may interrogate you in the back of a police car or while you are in custody without first reading you your Miranda rights. Sometimes, they may search your home or your car without a warrant and without probable cause or what are called “exigent circumstances,” (i.e., an emergency that gives them cause to believe that they must enter your home or office without a warrant and without your consent so that they can prevent someone from being hurt.) Your attorney may be able to argue that the police violated your rights in these or other ways depending on the facts of your case, leading to the suppression of admissions and other evidence that the prosecution may need to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Never Admit to Drinking

You must provide a police officer with your name, your driver’s license, your registration, and your car insurance information. You are not required by law to answer any other questions such as “How much have you had to drink tonight?”

It is in your best interest to remain silent and attempt to avoid saying anything. The conversation is likely being recorded, so anything you say can (and will) be used against you. Remember, in Colorado, the legal limit for blood alcohol content is 0.08%. If you are below this level, you are not guilty of DUI.

Therefore, you should avoid answering any questions about alcohol consumption as they are likely too vague to explain the type of alcohol you consumed, the amount, if you ate any food with it, the time period, etc.

The Prosecution Cannot Prove the Charges Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Prosecutors bringing criminal domestic violence charges must prove your guilt according to one of the highest legal standards in the U.S. justice system (only proving “actual innocence” in some rare criminal post-conviction proceedings presents a higher standard); they must prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In some instances, they just do not have the witnesses or recorded statements required to do that. Your defense attorney may decide that, rather than putting on other defenses like self-defense or police misconduct, they will just rely on the inability of the prosecution to present enough evidence to prove their case. This is often a winning strategy in domestic violence cases, although every case and set of facts is different.

Victim Dishonesty

Another defense that your attorney may bring up at a domestic violence trial is dishonesty by the victim. If the victim’s story simply does not match up with the physical evidence (he claims that you hit him, but the police find no evidence of his supposed injuries, and you have defensive wounds on you, for example), or if the victim changed his or her story multiple times in talking to multiple people, your attorney may be able to point out these inconsistencies, discredit the dishonest witness, and leave the prosecution unable to prove their case.

Arguing that a Domestic Violence Relationship Did Not Exist

Most states require the prosecution to prove that you were in a particular kind of relationship with the victim for a domestic violence charge to apply. This may include a marriage, sharing a child, being in a certain type of dating relationship, and other types of close associations. If you were not in such a relationship with the victim, your defense attorney may be able to prove that the domestic violence statute does not apply, potentially limiting the penalties you may face.

Choosing an Attorney to Assertively Protect Your Rights

Domestic violence charges in Boulder and throughout Colorado Front Range communities are very serious offenses and a conviction and/or protective order against you can have a devastating impact on your life.

At The Moorhead Law Group, we have successfully defended countless clients against allegations of domestic violence. Our office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, and we will make weekend and evening appointments by special arrangement. If you can’t come to us, we can come to you. Call us toll free at (303) 447-1400 or contact us by email to schedule a free initial consultation. Need immediate help after hours? Call us 24/7 to leave a message.