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Will I Be Arrested If I'm Accused of Domestic Abuse?

Wisconsin's laws are in place to protect the safety of all residents. As such, any instances of alleged abuse are taken seriously. Thus, if law enforcement officials receive a call that a domestic violence offense has been committed, they will aggressively respond to the matter. This means that if someone accuses you of harming a household or family member, you could be arrested.

What Is Domestic Abuse?

In Wisconsin, domestic abuse is defined as intentionally injuring or attempting to intentionally injure a family or household member.

This category of people includes a:

  • Spouse
  • Former spouse
  • Current roommate
  • Former roommate
  • Person with whom the alleged offender has a child

It's important to note that you could be accused of an offense whether or not physical contact was made with the alleged victim. This means that if you are making a threatening gesture and they reasonably fear you could make good on that threat, your actions might be considered domestic abuse.

The law specifically states that the following conduct could trigger a domestic violence arrest:

  • Intentionally causing physical pain, injury, or illness on another
  • Intentionally impairing someone's physical condition
  • Committing sexual assault
  • Engaging in a physical act that would make the other person fear that they are in imminent danger of harm

When Are Police Required to Make an Arrest?

Wis. Stat. § 968.075(2) provides that a police officer responding to a domestic abuse call is required to arrest you if they have probable cause to believe you are committing or have committed the alleged offense. Probable cause is not a hunch. It means that some evidence exists to suggest that you probably engaged in conduct that put the safety or life of your family or household member at risk.

In addition to probable cause, any of the following must also be apparent:

  • A reasonable belief that you will continue abusing the alleged victim
  • The alleged victim is physically injured
  • You are the predominant aggressor

According to the law, the predominant aggressor is the person who is causing or has caused the most significant harm. This does not mean that you were the first person to engage in abusive conduct. For instance, if you got into a verbal argument with a family or household member, and they struck out in anger first, but you retaliated with substantially more violence or threatened violence, you'd be considered the predominant aggressor. In this case, the police officer would be required to arrest you.

How Do Police Determine Who the Predominant Aggressor Is?

Generally, before an officer can arrest you for an alleged domestic abuse offense, they must determine that you are the primary aggressor.

To do that, they look at various factors, including, but not limited to:

  • Any prior domestic abuse offenses
  • Statements made by the alleged victim and anyone else who witnessed the incident
  • How bad the injuries are
  • Degree of fear you or the alleged victim have of the other
  • Whether you are threatening or have threatened harm against the alleged victim
  • Whether self-defense was involved

In many cases, although both parties might have used violence, the officer will arrest only the person they believe is the primary aggressor.

If you have been accused of or arrested for domestic abuse in Milwaukee, call the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella at (414) 882-8382 or contact us online. We have over 25 years of experience and will provide the aggressive defense you need.