Skip to main content

Wisconsin Domestic Abuse Charges | Criminal Defense Attorney

Do Domestic Abuse Charges in Wisconsin Always Result In Arrest?

Wisconsin has strict domestic abuse laws designed to provide strong protections for all residents. You should expect officers to take all domestic abuse calls seriously and respond aggressively. It is not at all unreasonable to expect to be arrested on domestic abuse charges.

Definition of Domestic Abuse

The State of Wisconsin defines domestic abuse as intentionally injuring or attempting to intentionally injure a family or household member. That includes:

  • Spouses and former spouses
  • Current and former roommates
  • People with whom the alleged offender has a child

Under the law, you could face domestic abuse charges and be arrested even if you do not make physical contact with the victim. Any of the following could result in domestic abuse charges being filed:

  • 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
  • Making threats and/or threatening gestures that the victim could reasonably fear

Conditions Under Which Police Will Make An Arrest

Wisconsin State Statute 968.075(2) specifies that a police officer who is responding to a domestic abuse call must have probable cause that you are committing or have committed a domestic abuse offense in order to make an arrest.

Probable cause is much more than just a suspicion. There must be evidence to suggest that the abuse probably did occur and that it affected the safety of others around you. Still, probable cause alone is not enough to make an arrest. In addition, at least one of the following criteria 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

We frequently receive questions about the “predominant aggressor,” especially in situations where the alleged victim and the alleged abuser are both causing injury to the other. Under the law, the predominant aggressor is the person who is causing or has caused the most significant harm. This person does not have to be the one who initiated the altercation. It is possible that the other person acted first and even threw a punch, but if the alleged abuser retaliated with substantially more violence or a threat of violence, he/she would be considered the predominant aggressor, and law enforcement officers would be required to make an arrest on domestic abuse charges.

Determining The Predominant Aggressor

Since arrests can be made based on who is the predominant aggressor, police officers have to be very sure that the accused is indeed the predominant aggressor. They use several criteria to make this determination, including, but not limited to:

  • prior domestic abuse offenses,
  • statements made by the alleged victim and witnesses,
  • the severity of the injuries,
  • the degree of fear you or the alleged victim have of the other,
  • current or past threats of harm against the alleged victim,
  • whether self-defense was involved.

Our Wisconsin Criminal Defense Team Wil Defend Your Rights

A charge of domestic abuse should never be taken lightly. A conviction will upend your life and make it much harder for you to obtain employment, see your kids, and even find housing in the future. If you have been accused of domestic abuse, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side, defending your rights, presenting the facts, and being your strongest advocate. Trust your defense to the team at Eisenberg Law Offices in Madison. We have over 35 years of experience handling criminal defense cases in Wisconsin and offer free consultations so you can determine if we are a good fit for your situation.

Call 608-256-8356 or email to schedule your free consultation today.



Eisenberg Law has successfully represented our clients in thousands of Personal Injury, Criminal Defense and Family Law Cases during our 30-plus years in business.