Wisconsin Domestic Violence
The crime of domestic violence is widely prevalent in the United States. Abuse against intimate partners, family members or household members happens more often than you might think, and Wisconsin law enforcement officials and prosecutors consider domestic abuse to be a serious crime punishable by jail time and substantial fines. If you have been accused of domestic abuse in Wisconsin, you could be arrested and aggressively prosecuted even if the alleged victim doesn’t want to press charges. The good news is, just because you have been charged with domestic abuse does not mean you are guilty of the crime. A skilled Wisconsin criminal defense attorney with experience in domestic violence defense can help you smoothly navigate the criminal justice system, fight for your rights and defend you against the criminal charges.
Wisconsin Domestic Violence Laws
Under Wis. Stat. § 813.12(1)(am), domestic abuse refers to any form of abuse perpetrated by one adult family or household member against another, by an adult caregiver against an adult under the caregiver’s care, or by an adult against his or her adult former spouse, a person with whom he or she currently has or previously had a dating relationship, or a person with whom he or she has a child in common. Wis. Stat. § 813.12(1)(b) defines a family member as “a spouse, a parent, a child or a person related by blood or adoption to another person,” while Wis. Stat. § 813.12(1)(c) defines a household member as “a person currently or formerly residing in a place of abode with another person.” It is important to note that domestic abuse covers much more than just physical violence in Wisconsin. According to the law, any of the following can constitute the crime of domestic abuse:
- Any intentional infliction of injury, pain, or illness (battery),
- Any intentional impairment of physical condition,
- Sexual assault,
- Damage to property belonging to the alleged victim, or
- Any threat to engage in the above acts.
Consequences of Domestic Abuse in Wisconsin
Domestic Abuse Arrests
In Wisconsin, a police officer is required to arrest and take into custody any individual accused of domestic violence if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the accused has committed domestic abuse and:
- The officer believes the abuse is likely to continue,
- There is evidence of physical harm or injury to the victim, and
- The accused is the predominant aggressor.
Upon a domestic violence arrest, a no-contact order (NCO) is automatically put in place. This order requires the accused to stay away from the petitioner’s home and avoid contacting the petitioner for 72 hours after the arrest. Any violation of this no-contact order could lead to imprisonment for a term not exceeding nine months or a fine not more than $10,000, or both.
Domestic Abuse Penalties and Fines in Wisconsin
Wisconsin does not have specific criminal statutes that apply exclusively to acts of domestic violence. Instead, the state relies on the statute(s) that relate to the underlying criminal act to prosecute defendants accused of committing abuse against family or household members. For instance, if you are accused of committing the crime of battery against a family or household member, you could face the following penalties for battery:
Battery – A Class A misdemeanor carrying a possible fine of up to $10,000, confinement in prison for a term not exceeding nine months, or both (Wis. Stat. § 939.51(3)(a)).
Substantial Battery – A Class I felony carrying a possible penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding three and a half years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both (Wis. Stat. § 939.50(3)(i)).
Aggravated Battery – A Class H felony carrying a possible penalty of not more than $10,000 in fines, confinement in prison for up to six years, or both (Wis. State. § 939.50(3)(h)), or a Class E felony carrying a possible penalty of up to $50,000 in fines, imprisonment for up to 15 years, or both (Wis. State. § 939.50(3)(e)).
There is also a special $100 domestic violence fee in Wisconsin, which applies to any case where a person is convicted of committing a violent or threatening crime against a family or household member, such as battery, abuse, sexual assault, property damage, intimidation, harassment, trespass or violating a restraining order.
Restraining Orders and Domestic Abuse Injunctions
In Wisconsin, any alleged victim of domestic abuse can petition the court for a protective order or a domestic abuse injunction. In simple terms, these are court orders that require the accused to refrain from causing any further harm to the accused. Under Wis. Stat. § 813.12, a protective order may order the accused to:
- Stop committing acts of domestic abuse against the petitioner,
- Stay away from the petitioner’s residence or any other location in which he or she is temporarily residing,
- Avoid contacting the petitioner either directly or through any third party who is not the petitioner’s lawyer or a law enforcement officer,
- Refrain from removing, hiding, harming, mistreating or disposing of a household pet,
- Allow the petitioner or a family or household member acting on behalf of the petitioner to retrieve a household pet, and/or
- Hand over any firearms to the authorities.
Domestic violence restraining orders are taken very seriously. Knowingly violating a temporary restraining order or domestic abuse injunction is a criminal offense in Wisconsin, punishable by possible confinement in jail for up to nine months, a fine not exceeding $10,000, or both (Wis. Stat. § 813.1285(8)).
A Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Can Help
As you can see, being convicted on charges of domestic abuse in Wisconsin can have life-changing consequences that follow you for the rest of your life. In addition to jail time, you could face considerable fines and end up with a criminal record, which could have a negative impact on your personal and professional life moving forward. Domestic abuse cases in Wisconsin tend to be complicated and emotionally charged, and they require the expertise of a knowledgeable and compassionate domestic violence defense attorney. If you have been charged with domestic abuse in Wisconsin, it is imperative that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who will work tirelessly to protect your legal rights and get the charges against you reduced or dismissed.