What happens when an allegation of domestic violence is made in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin has been very aggressive when it comes to dealing with issues connected to domestic violence. In 2014, the state passed several new laws designed to increase the ability of law enforcement to make arrests in these cases. Crimes like stalking will now be considered as behaviors indicative of domestic violence, and could result in more individuals be charged with serious offenses.

The state has also placed more requirements on officers to file reports when they decide to not make an arrest. This is something that state agencies want to keep a close eye on, so that they have ready access to information in situations where additional abuse occurs at a later point in time. It can also help officials learn if more extensive training for police is necessary when responding to domestic violence calls.

What is domestic violence under Wisconsin law?

The state statutes define domestic violence as the intentional infliction of pain, injury illness, as well as the threat of future pain, injury or illness by one adult family or household member against another adult family or household member. The laws also include former spouses, those individuals currently dating, those who have a child together as well as caregivers who abuse adults under their care.

When police arrive at the scene

One of the first things that the officers will do is separate the individuals and witnesses from one another. They will start their investigations by asking questions of those who were present at the time the alleged incident occurred. If they hear the same story over and over, they may look for additional evidence that supports this particular version of events. This evidence could include actual signs of abuse, such as bruising or other indications that an assault took place.

The person who is alleged to be the abuser will also be asked about what happened and the police will be listening very closely to what is being said. This information will be included in any reports that the officers make, and could eventually find its way into the case at a later point in time.

Under Wisconsin state laws, police may make an arrest for a crime connected to domestic violence if certain factors are present when called to the scene. If the officer, based on reasonable grounds, feels that domestic violence has occurred, and arrest may be made if:

· It is likely that the abuse will continue

· The victim displays evidence that physical abuse has occurred, or

· The individual accused is the person who is the "predominant aggressor," which means he or she is the most significant actor in the domestic violence matter

When deciding which individual is the "predominant aggressor," the officers are allowed to consider several pieces of information to make this particular determination. Prior domestic abuse between the parties is one factor, and police can ask the witnesses present about the earlier incidents to learn more about what may have happened in those situations.

If one of the individuals involved appears to be afraid of the other, it can again show which person is likely to commit further abuse. Additionally, if the abuser is threatening the victim with future harm, it can support the officers' decisions regarding which person should be arrested.

What happens when a person is arrested

Once officers decide to make an arrest, the offender will be required to stay in jail until he or she appears before a judge, or posts bail. In most situations, there will be very specific rules in place regarding what should happen in the 72 hours after a domestic violence arrest. The offender can have no contact with the victim, and this includes trying to have a third party reach out to the individual. Also, the offender is not allowed to visit the victim's residence, or temporary residence, during this 72-hour window. If the individuals involved lived together at the time of the offense, the offender will have to find a new place to live after the arrest. Those who violate this order can face a fine of up to $10,000, as well as a maximum of nine months in jail.

A temporary restraining order may be put in place, and a hearing will be held to determine if the order should become permanent. The temporary orders result when the court feels there is potential danger to the victim, and that the offender has shown signs of abusive behavior. If the order is granted, it is not waived if the victim allows the offender back into the residence or other place that he or she is prohibited from attending. If these individuals are subsequently caught in these places, they could be facing significant penalties.

The offenders may also have to submit any firearms that they own to the sheriff in the county where they reside, or to another person approved by the courts if a permanent order is entered. These firearms will not be returned until the injunction expires or is vacated. If the person is unable to own the firearms after submitting them to authorities, the guns shall not be returned.

There will be a no-contact order in effect throughout the case, which prohibits any attempts to contact the victim while the case is pending. If the offender is convicted of the domestic violence offense, he or she will lose the right to own firearms.

What you need to do if you are facing domestic violence allegations

In the event that you are arrested by law enforcement officers in a domestic violence incident, you need to be sure that you take immediate action to protect yourself. You should not discuss your side of the story with police once you have been arrested. The information that you disclose to the officers could be used against you in your case, and this can make it extremely difficult for you to able to defend yourself against these allegations.

After the arrest, your first step should be to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you consider all of the options that are available to you. This will give you an opportunity to ask any questions that you may have, and will allow you to make an informed decision about what might be best for your situation.

If you plead guilty before talking with an attorney, you might be putting yourself in a very difficult position. The court may hand down very severe penalties, which could leave you facing significant jail time, in addition to the other consequences that will result if convicted.

You should contact the Law Office of Stephen M. Govin, LLC, by calling 414-395-5620 to schedule a free initial consultation. Attorney Govin has handled cases inside the courtroom, and will be able to help you offer a strong defense to these allegations.