Wisconsin Domestic Violence Laws
According to the US Department of Justice, domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. There are several types of abuse which often coincide with each other. An abusive partner will engage in one or more of these categories:
Physical abuse is the use of physical force against the other person to cause harm and trauma. This can include: hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting and hair pulling.
Sexual abuse is often tied in with physical abuse, but in this case, the victim is forced into an unwanted sexual act. Any type of sexual act or behavior without consent between each party is considered sexual abuse -- even if the two parties are married.
Emotional abuse is used by one party to undermine or demean their partner’s self-worth and self-esteem. Emotional abuse can be verbal or nonverbal and is commonly used to damage the relationship of one partner with his/her children, parents, siblings and friends.
Common tactics employed by abusers include gaslighting (manipulating someone psychologically to question their own sanity), verbal beratement and belittlement, extreme passive aggression, and isolation from friends and family.
An abuser will try to ensure that the victim is dependent on them in every aspect -- including economically. This is done by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one's access to money, or forbidding one's attendance in school or employment. They try to make it difficult for the victim to leave by cutting off their support.
Economic abuse differs from financial abuse -- financial abuse is when the abuser illegally uses the victim's current finances or assets for their own gain, to deplete the victim's financial independence. Financial abuse is used to deplete current assets, whereas economic abuse is used to hinder future prospects of financial independence.
Psychological abuse is often tied in with emotional abuse, but focuses on using fear on the victim. The abuser will often use intimidation tactics and threats. Some of these tactics include stalking, destruction of personal property, forcing isolation from family/friends and physical harm to pets.
Laws and Punishments for Domestic Violence in Wisconsin
Wisconsin defines domestic abuse as, "an adult engaging in intentional infliction of physical pain, injury, or illness; sexual assault; or physical acts threatening either of those against his or her current or former spouse, current or former co-habitant, or co-parent."
Interestingly enough, Wisconsin doesn't actually have a law specifically prohibiting domestic abuse. Instead, it uses the other, relevant statutes that may fall under the umbrella of "domestic violence" to prosecute cases. So, for example, if a man physically harms his wife, rather than being charged with "domestic abuse", they prosecute the harmful act -- in this case, assault and battery. Unlike other states, Wisconsin does not raise the maximum penalty // if the abuser commits acts against family or household members. Punishments become more severe if the offender has prior records of the same behavior or if they violate restraining orders.
Because Wisconsin does not have a general domestic violence law, cases are prosecuted based on the relevant statutes. Domestic abuse punishment severities are therefore dictated by the severity of that statute's punishment. Although, if found guilty under the 973.055 law, there’s a surcharge of $100 for each offense. In all likelihood, your right to possess and purchase a firearm will likely also be stripped.
Accused of Domestic Violence?
If you've been accused of domestic violence, it's not something to be taken lightly. Offenses that fall under the umbrella of domestic abuse in Wisconsin carry extreme penalties -- misdemeanor /felony charges, hefty fines, and/or significant prison time -- depending on the case and the criminal record of the accused.
You need experienced professionals in your corner to fight for your rights and ensure that you're not taken advantage of. Operating out of Sauk County, Wisconsin, Southworth & Stamman are experienced defense attorneys that have taken on many successful domestic violence cases in the past. Contact Us today to ensure you have the best possible legal defense by your side.
Victim of Domestic Violence?
If you suspect that you or a loved one are a victim of domestic abuse, help is available. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) -- it's free, confidential and available 24/7 in over 200 languages.
Southworth & Stamman, LLC.