In Wisconsin, the crime of “domestic violence” does not exist as a separate offense defined by law. Instead, various crimes fall under the umbrella of domestic violence as a general label. These are crimes that have been established in the state that occur in other settings as well as in a domestic setting. They are called domestic violence because of the relationship between the alleged victim and his or her aggressor.
Thus, domestic violence occurs between family or household members or intimate partners. In this blog, we will further explain the various types of crimes that can occur under the label of domestic violence.
What Is Domestic Abuse in Wisconsin?
Domestic abuse is defined under Wisconsin law Chapter 968.075. It is described as the “intentional infliction of physical pain, physical injury, or illness, or intentional impairment of physical condition.” Under this law, domestic violence also includes any type of sexual assault or a physical act that may cause the other person to reasonably fear imminent physical pain or injury or impairment.
The domestic relationships that pertain to these crimes include:
- Spouses or ex-spouses
- Someone with whom you cohabit or have formerly cohabited
Law enforcement have the obligation to arrest whomever they believe is the primary aggressor when called to the scene of a domestic disturbance. This occurs when police observe evidence of abuse or when they believe domestic abuse has occurred and is likely to re-occur. The case then results in charges filed by the prosecutor’s office; because they are filed by the prosecutor, they can only be dropped by this same office. Alleged victims do not have the ability to drop charges.
The Crimes of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence crimes in Milwaukee include:
- Misdemeanor and felony battery
- Battery to an unborn child
- Disorderly conduct
- Criminal damage to property
- Misdemeanor bail jumping
- Strangulation and suffocation
- Misdemeanor or felony sexual assault
- False imprisonment
The Two Most Common Domestic Violence Crimes
The two most charged domestic violence crimes in the state are misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct. Battery consists of intentional bodily harm caused to the other person or to an unborn child without that person’s consent. It is charged as a Class A misdemeanor punished by up to nine months in a county jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
Under Wisconsin law Chapter 947.01, disorderly conduct consists of “violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance.” It is charged as a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Battery may also be charged as “Substantial” battery when it causes substantial harm to the victim or unborn child. This is a Class I felony carrying up to three and a half years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Aggravated battery occurs when great bodily harm is caused and may be charged as a Class H or Class E felony, depending on the circumstances. Class H felonies carry up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Class E felonies carry up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
In all domestic violence crimes, repeat offenders may be given harsher sentences. Most domestic violence crimes include restraining orders in which the primary aggressor is prohibited from further abusive acts or any type of contact with the alleged victim (which may include children). The defendant may also be ordered to pay damages or restitution to the victim.
Need Legal Representation in a Domestic Abuse Charge?
If you have been charged with any type of domestic violence crime, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel. You need to ensure that your side of the story is heard and that your legal rights are protected. Domestic arrests are often made on subjective “evidence,” or hearsay, on false accusations or exaggeration. Our firm is here to give you the voice you need and to fight to protect your best interests in both criminal and family courts.
You can reach us for a free consultation at (414) 882-8382 or via our online request form.