Most matters involving family relationships such as marriage, divorce, child custody, and domestic violence are handled at a state level, and each of the 50 states has different ways of defining domestic violence and laws governing domestic violence prosecutions and penalties. The same actions may be punishable as a felony in Wisconsin, a misdemeanor in Minnesota, and completely legal in Ohio. Understanding how Wisconsin defines domestic abuse and violence is essential for both avoiding domestic violence charges and defending against domestic abuse claims in Appleton and the surrounding areas.

Domestic Violence In Wisconsin

Experienced Outagamie County Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys

At Hogan Eickhoff, we understand that criminal charges arising from family interactions are often complex. Domestic violence claims may be falsified to obtain public benefits, legal immigration status, or to gain an advantage during child custody and divorce proceedings. They may also be filed against a non-aggressor during a heated argument or in response to self-defense. We understand that allegations are not the same as guilt, and will always approach your case with an open mind and without judgment.

Whether it’s presenting a strong defense to domestic abuse claims in Appleton or arguing for alternative sentencing arrangements in Green Bay, schedule your free and confidential domestic violence defense consultation with the experienced Outagamie, Brown, Winnebago, Calumet, and Waupaca County domestic violence defense lawyers at Hogan Eickhoff today by calling (920) 450-9800 or contacting us online.

Actions that Qualify as Domestic Abuse (Domestic Violence) in Wisconsin

Wisconsin law specifically defines domestic abuse as any of the following actions committed against a spouse, former spouse, an adult with whom the defendant resides or previously resided, or an adult with whom the defendant shares a child:

  • Inflicting physical pain, physical injury, or illness
  • Intentionally impairing a person’s physical condition
  • First, second, or third-degree sexual assault
  • Any physical act that would cause a reasonable person to fear to the offender will engage in one of the above behaviors, such as threatening to harm the victim while raising fists, trying to lock the victim in a room, breaking furniture, smashing property, harming a pet, or throwing items

Assault, battery, and sexual assault are not punishable as domestic abuse in Wisconsin unless the assault was committed against a spouse, ex-spouse, co-parent, adult roommate/live-in-partner, or former adult roommate. Prosecutors must have evidence of the parties’ relationship or former relationship and residency to bring domestic abuse charges. This means a marriage certificate, utility bills or identification indicating the parties live or lived together, or legal documentation of parentage indicating the parties share a child.

Domestic Violence Arrests and Ascertaining the “Prominent Aggressor” in Wisconsin

Wisconsin law mandates that police officers arrest an alleged domestic abuser and hold the alleged offender until his/her initial appearance before a judge if:

  • The officer has reason to believe the domestic violence occurred and the same constituted a crime under Wisconsin law
  • The victim has a physical injury, or there is evidence of a recent physical injury
  • The officer reasonably believes the victim will continue to suffer domestic abuse at the hands of the offender
  • Evidence indicates one party was the predominant aggressor (most significant aggressor even if not the first aggressor)

However, the law also states that officers should avoid arresting a party that is not identified as the predominant aggressor. Because self-defense and defense of a third person are complete defenses to domestic violence charges in Wisconsin, it’s important to ascertain the difference between the defensive and offensive parties during a domestic violence dispute. Police are instructed to utilize the following factors in determining whether they make a predominant aggressor arrest in Wisconsin:

  • The history of domestic abuse between the parties whether registered in the police system or as testified to by witnesses
  • Witness statements including statements from neighbors, eyewitnesses, the alleged offender, and the victim
  • The types and level of injury to the parties
  • Any indication that one party fears another,
  • Any present or past threats made by the offender to the victim or another household member
  • Whether it appears either party acted in self-defense or to defend another even if he/she was the first aggressor

Domestic violence defendants often believe speaking with the police will prevent a domestic violence arrest or charges, but this is seldom the case. Always invoke your constitutional right to silence and an attorney if you’re being investigated for domestic violence in Wisconsin.  

Potential Penalties for Wisconsin Domestic Violence Charges

Domestic violence charges have the potential to result in serious penalties, including jail time and substantial fines. In addition, just because a crime qualifies as domestic abuse does not mean it’s no longer punishable as the base offense. For example, a boyfriend who rapes his live-in girlfriend is guilty of both rape and domestic abuse in Wisconsin. Domestic abuse offenders will face the penalties associated with the base offense, which may range from life imprisonment for felony murder charges to a citation for making verbal threats, in addition to certain domestic abuse penalties.

People charged with domestic violence in Wisconsin are typically subject to certain no-contact and restraining orders. Violating these orders, even before conviction or acquittal, can result in additional penalties. Domestic violence offenders may also be removed from the home, subject to monitoring, or forced to attend mandated family counsel, anger management, or rehabilitation programs. The punishment for domestic violence increases depending on the nature of the underlying crime and whether the offender has previous domestic violence arrests and convictions. 

Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Wisconsin Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you’ve been accused of domestic violence, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. The domestic abuse defense lawyers at Hogan Eickhoff consider all of the facts when formulating domestic abuse defense and work to achieve the most positive outcome possible for you and your family. Schedule your free Wisconsin domestic assault defense consultation with the top-rated Green Bay criminal defense lawyers at Hogan Eickhoff today by calling (920) 450-9800 or contacting us online.