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Innocent Until Proven Guilty in Domestic Violence Disputes


It is important to remember that domestic violence is a criminal charge, and the prosecutor must prove every element of the charge with evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Did the alleged violence activity occur? Was there requisite intent? The prosecutor must make these showings, relying on evidence such as witness testimony or circumstantial evidence.

Like other criminal investigations, police who respond to the scene of a domestic violence allegation must make a credibility call after their investigation. This call determines whether the accused will be arrested and charged with domestic violence.


In a recent example, Antonio Brown, a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was involved in a domestic violence dispute. Police responded to the scene but did not investigate Brown, who issued a media state claiming the allegations were false.

Legal Defenses to A Domestic Violence Charge

Yet even if an arrest had been made, there is still an opportunity to raise a criminal defense strategy. For example, if the police followed improper procedures during their investigation, a criminal defendant may be able to prevail upon a pretrial motion to exclude all evidence that was improperly obtained as a result.

If there are holes in the prosecutor’s case, such as conflicting witness testimony, no prior conduct or pattern of violence, or a lack of evidence, the accused may have a good chance at acquittal.  In addition, there are defenses available to a domestic violence charge, such as accident, self-defense, or false accusations.

Source: ESPN, “Steelers WR Antonio Brown involved in domestic dispute, not arrested,” Jeremy Fowler, Feb. 5, 2019

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