Common Defenses to Misdemeanor Charges

Facing a criminal charge, even if only a misdemeanor charge, is still a frightening and serious experience. You are still looking at potential fines and jail time, along with a mark on your record. Luckily, you are not defenseless in this situation. There are a few common defenses to protect you, which can lessen the severity of the penalties or even have your charges dropped entirely.

The best move is to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney, who will be aware of all these methods as well as others and will be able to advise based on the individual details of your case. No two are alike, and it is important to cover your bases as thoroughly as possible.

Lack of Intent

When proving a crime has been committed, two things must be proven. There has to be ample evidence that the perpetrator both carried out the illegal action and that they intended to do so. It is possible to commit a crime but be unaware that you have done so, in which case there is no criminal intent.

For example, you may have borrowed something but forgotten to return it, in which case you did not technically steal it. However, this does not always mean that you will go free. You can be ignorant of a law but still be punished for breaking it, depending on the crime and how much damage has been done.

Mistake of Fact

Similar to lack of intent, a mistake of fact means that the person committed a crime based on a misunderstanding. The defendant and plaintiff will have two entirely different views of what occurred, and it need only be proven that the defendant did not realize they were doing something illegal.

Perhaps you took something thinking it was given to you, not realizing you were stealing it, thereby committing a theft offense. This puts the burden on the prosecution to prove that the defendant was aware of their crime, which can be difficult depending on the situation.


Self-defense applies when you have committed assault but only did so in defense of your person. If someone attacks you and you hurt them while fighting back, that would count as self-defense. This excuses the use of non-deadly, and sometimes even deadly, force against another person.

Under Colorado law, you are allowed to act in self-defense only in cases where you reasonably believe it is necessary and only with the appropriate force for the situation. For example, shooting an assailant who only punched you is unnecessary force. The rule of self-defense can be complicated, but a criminal defense lawyer will be able to explain whether or not self-defense applies to your case.


Entrapment refers to a very specific situation in which a person commits a crime because they were manipulated into it by law enforcement. This usually happens when the police are trying to obtain evidence and go too far, inducing someone who would not have otherwise committed the crime to do so. If your lawyer can prove your charges involve entrapment, they will likely be dropped entirely.

However, the perpetrator has to be a law-abiding citizen who would not, under normal circumstances, have committed the crime. If the police only gave the person the opportunity to commit the crime and they did so, it does not count.

Identify the Right Defense With an Attorney

When in legal trouble, a good defense attorney is your best friend. They will help you decide the best defense based on the particular details of your case. Remember, no two cases are alike, and there are always factors that complicate matters. Luckily, a criminal defense attorney has the experience to protect you, no matter how complex your situation.

The Harrell Law Firm, PLLC has been serving Colorado as a criminal defense firm for years and will be willing and able to give you the defense you need. We can be reached for a consultation when you call or fill out our online contact form.