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What are the Types of Defenses Used in Domestic Violence Cases?

On behalf of Dolan + Zimmerman LLP October 15, 2021

Being charged with any type of domestic violence offense is scary and very serious. There can be lifelong consequences, and if you find yourself in this position, it’s important to find an experienced attorney. While it’s ultimately your attorney’s job to develop a strategy to defend you, it’s helpful for you to know the common defenses so you can be involved in your case as well.


One of the most common defenses to domestic violence is self-defense. If you are charged with domestic violence and you and your partner were in an argument, it’s perfectly valid to raise the argument that you were simply defending yourself. Your lawyer should be able to help you show proof that this is the case. For example, do you have defensive marks from trying to get the other person away from you? Do you have more severe injuries than the other person? Who called the police first? All of these will play a role in your self-defense claim.

Under Colorado law, you are permitted to use physical force to defend yourself if you reasonably believe that it’s necessary to protect yourself against imminent harm, AND you use only the degree of force that is considered appropriate for the situation.

Typically, to succeed in a self-defense claim, you must prove the following:

  1. You reasonably believed that you were about to suffer imminent AND unlawful force;
  2. You reasonably believed that you needed to use physical force to defend yourself; and
  3. The degree of force you used was what you reasonably believed was necessary to defend yourself.  

Defense of Others

Similar to self-defense, you’re also permitted to defend other in some circumstances. Defense of others is the same: if you believe someone else is in imminent danger, you are permitted to use physical force to defend them to a reasonable degree. 



Another common defense for domestic violence charges is an alibi defense. This means you can provide evidence that you weren’t even at the scene of the crime when the alleged victim was injured. For example, the victim says you abused them on a day that you were at the beach with your friends. Fortunately, you have video and photos of you and your friends at the beach at the exact same time that the alleged victim claims you injured them. This is an excellent defense to raise in this situation. 



Finally, another primary defense to domestic violence charges is that the injuries sustained were simply accidental. Perhaps you and your partner were arguing over who got to use the car and you went to grab the keys out of their hand. As you grabbed the keys, they tripped and fell. It’s perfectly reasonably to raise the defense that it was purely an accident; you never touched them, you simply went to grab the keys, and they stepped back and tripped over something and injured themselves. 

Contact An Experienced Lawyer

Domestic violence charges are serious and should never be taken lightly. If you or a loved one was arrested or are being questioned about domestic violence charges, speak with a criminal defense lawyer in Boulder as soon as you can.