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Robert T. Ruth has been a Wisconsin domestic offense defense lawyer since 1993. He has successfully represented people accused of domestic offenses in counties throughout the state of Wisconsin. There are many potential challenges to a Wisconsin domestic offense, so it pays to retain an experienced Wisconsin criminal defense attorney to defend you.

What Happens if I am Arrested for a Domestic Offense?

In domestic cases, most arrests include a trip to the jail. If the arrest only involves misdemeanor charges, you will have a chance to post a bond that night. If you cannot post bond or the arrest includes a felony, you have to sit in jail until you appear before a judge to set bond. The officer may inform you of a 72 hour no contact provision. This means that you may not have any contact with the person identified on the form for 72 hours. Violation of the 72 hour no contact order is a separate crime.

The first court is called the initial appearance. You usually receive a complaint at the initial appearance that tells you what you are charged with and the basic facts alleged in the case. The judge also sets bond conditions at the initial appearance. You will have an opportunity to be heard on the proposed bond conditions. If the judge sets a signature bond, previously posted money will be returned.

No Contact Order

The 72 hour no contact order only lasts for 72 hours. At the first hearing in many domestic cases the prosecution asks for a bond condition that prohibits contact with the alleged victim and or no contact with the alleged victim's residence. If you have a no contact order, even if the alleged victim is a spouse or lives in the same house, you bear the burden of staying away from the person. In other words, if you have a no contact condition and have contact with the forbidden person, you are the one who gets in trouble. No contact orders, particularly when they prevent you from returning to your home, can create a substantial hardship. In a domestic case, where there is a risk that the state will request a no contact order, it is particularly important to have a lawyer at the bond hearing to fight the request for a no contact order.

What Makes a Charge a Domestic Crime in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin has a “domestic abuse” surcharge that it applies to cases considered “domestic abuse.” The first condition of a "domestic abuse" crime requires proof of a certain relationship between the defendant and the alleged victim. If the defendant is an adult and the alleged victim is a spouse or former spouse, the relationship is considered "domestic" under Wisconsin law. An offense is also considered "domestic" if the alleged victim is an adult with whom the defendant resides or formerly resided or with who the defendant has a child in common.

If the relationship does not meet the definition of domestic, nothing else matters. If the relationship is "domestic" under Wisconsin law, the next step is to look at the nature of the alleged offense. First, second or third degree sexual assault all trigger the domestic abuse surcharge. Battery also triggers the domestic abuse surcharge. After that, which offenses trigger the domestic abuse label becomes more vague. Assume the example grabbing the phone away from an alleged victim trying to call police. This may amount to intimidation of a victim, but does it reasonably cause the alleged victim to fear physical injury? Or, assume the example of a disorderly conduct based on a shouting match. Does the shouting match cause a reasonable person to fear physical injury or any other condition on the list? The bottom line is that on these situations whether the conduct amounts to domestic abuse is a judgment call that is open to dispute. Under these circumstances you should not just accept the "domestic abuse" label.

Wisconsin Statute specifically defines “domestic abuse” as follows:
"Domestic abuse" means any of the following engaged in by an adult person against his or her spouse or former spouse, against an adult with whom the person resides or formerly resided or against an adult with whom the person has a child in common:

1) Intentional infliction of physical pain, physical injury or illness.
2) Intentional impairment of physical condition.
3) A violation of s. 940.225(1), (2) or (3).
4) A physical act that may cause the other person reasonably to fear imminent engagement in the conduct described under subd. 1, 2 or 3.

Call Madison criminal defense attorney Robert T. Ruth at 608-257-2540 for a free consultation on any Wisconsin domestic crime.