Domestic violence charges are serious. In addition to causing potentially irreparable harm to your reputation, these charges can carry life-altering consequences like enhanced sentencing, jail time, restrictions on your firearm rights, and more.

If you’ve been charged with domestic violence, it’s crucial that you secure experienced legal representation. At Maciolek Law Group, we have a long track record of successfully defending our clients against domestic violence charges. 

Our team takes the time to look closely at your case and formulate a detailed defense. We understand that each client’s case is unique and that everyone deserves a unique and personalized defense strategy.

When you’re facing domestic violence charges, there’s no time to waste. Call Maciolek Law Group’s Sun Prairie office or our Green Bay office to schedule a free consultation. If you prefer, get in touch via our online contact form.

How Does Wisconsin Define Domestic Violence?

Most people have a general understanding of what constitutes domestic violence (also called domestic abuse). However, if you’re facing charges of domestic violence in Wisconsin, it’s important to understand how exactly Wisconsin defines this crime.

According to Wisconsin law, domestic abuse refers to abuse within these types of relationships:

  • Two adults who share a child together
  • Two adults who had a dating relationship in the past
  • Two adults who currently have a dating relationship
  • Two adults in the same family
  • Two adults in the same household
  • An adult caregiver and the adult that person cares for
  • Two adults who are currently married
  • Two adults who were formerly married

Domestic abuse may include the following actions:

  • Intentionally causing physical pain, illness, or injury
  • Intentionally impairing the other person’s physical condition
  • Sexual assault
  • Damaging property that belongs to one involved individual (not shared property)
  • Stalking
  • A threat to engage in any of the actions above

It’s important to understand that domestic violence is an offense that occurs between two adults. Child abuse is a separate charge.

Wisconsin’s Mandatory Arrest Law

In some states, police officers who respond to the scene of a domestic violence incident will simply talk to both parties. However, Wisconsin law requires responding officers to arrest the predominant aggressor

In some cases, it’s immediately clear which partner or spouse is the abuser, but making that determination can sometimes be murky. Officers must consider the following when identifying which person poses the most significant threat:

  • Any known history of domestic violence between the parties
  • Any witness statements regarding that history
  • Witness statements at the scene of the current incident
  • The severity of injuries on the involved parties
  • Whether either partner acted in self-defense or was defending someone else
  • Whether either partner is threatening the other or has done so in the past

In many states, an officer will not arrest an aggressor if the other partner asks them not to. However, Wisconsin law forbids officers to make arrest decisions based on the victim’s willingness to cooperate with the prosecution of the aggressor.

In general, these mandatory arrest laws are a good thing. Many victims are hesitant to cooperate with prosecution because they fear retaliation. However, if the officer declines to arrest the clear aggressor, they leave the victim in danger and enable the abuser to continue with no consequences.

However, mandatory arrest laws also have their downsides. If officers are having trouble determining which party was the aggressor, there’s a possibility that the wrong party will be arrested. 

That simply adds insult to injury for domestic violence victims. If you’ve been arrested despite being a victim, it’s that much more important to find a competent domestic violence defense attorney as fast as you can.

What Happens After a Domestic Abuse Arrest in Wisconsin?

In order to protect victims, the laws surrounding the initial arrest and release of an alleged domestic abuser are different from those regarding arrests for other crimes. 

First, if you’ve been arrested for domestic abuse, you may not be immediately released from whatever facility you’ve landed in, such as the City-County Building Jail on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. In order for you to be released from custody, one of the following must happen:

  • You post bail (or someone posts it on your behalf)
  • You go before a judge for an initial appearance (referred to in some states as an arraignment)

After your arrest, you legally must have no contact with your alleged victim for 72 hours. That may not sound like much, but depending on your living situation, it can be disruptive. 

For instance, if you live with the alleged victim, you must find somewhere else to stay for that 72 hours, like a friend’s house or the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Madison. You likely will not be able to return home to get anything you need during that time. However, in some cases, courts will grant a waiver of this requirement.

Notably, even before you’ve been convicted, you can face very serious penalties for violating post-arrest conditions. If you have any contact whatsoever with the alleged victim during that 72-hour period, you may have to spend up to nine months in jail, pay a fine of $10,000, or both.

What Are the Penalties for a Domestic Violence Conviction?

Many people refer to domestic violence as a crime in itself, and some states do treat it this way. However, in Wisconsin, domestic violence isn’t its own offense; it’s what’s known as an “enhancer.” 

This means that you can’t be charged with domestic abuse unless you are also being charged with another crime. If you are convicted of that crime, the fact that it was committed in a domestic context means your sentence will be increased.

There are many different crimes that can happen as a part of domestic violence. At Maciolek Law Group, we have successfully defended clients charged with these types of domestic abuse:

  • Sexual assault
  • Criminal damage to property
  • Violation of restraining order related to domestic abuse
  • Stalking
  • Strangulation
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Battery
  • Substantial battery

If you have a history of domestic abuse, a domestic abuse enhancer can have especially serious consequences. If you have what is known as a “domestic abuse repeater” enhancer, any misdemeanor offense you allegedly commit will automatically be elevated to a felony.

What to Do If You Are Charged with Domestic Abuse

Facing any kind of criminal charge can be disorienting, but you can preserve your chances of acquittal by doing the following:

  • Do not discuss allegations with police
  • If questioned, ask for an attorney immediately
  • Be careful to follow all court orders and mandates
  • Gather any evidence you can to support your innocence
  • Schedule a consultation with a defense attorney and bring the evidence you have

Above all, remain calm. Being charged with a crime does not mean you will automatically be convicted.

Need a Domestic Violence Attorney in Madison?

At Maciolek Law Group, we believe that regardless of your situation, you deserve a strong, personalized defense. Our attorneys have worked hard to build a reputation around our skill, experience, and tenacity. If you’ve been charged with domestic violence, let us put those qualities to work for you.

If you’re in Madison and need a strong defense against domestic violence accusations, get in touch with us. Our Sun Prairie office at 750 Windsor Street, Suite 207 is conveniently located about 15 miles from Madison. If you’d like to schedule a consultation, call us or simply fill out our online contact form.

Contact Info

Maciolek Law Group

    Contact Us

    The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.