In Wisconsin, law enforcement officers are required to make an arrest in domestic violence incidents when certain criteria are met:
The domestic relationship between the alleged suspect and victim can be defined as:
Domestic violence cases are referred to the District Attorney’s Office by all units of Dane County law enforcement. Before making a charging decision, the prosecutor will consider factors that include:
Victims of domestic violence face many obstacles when continuing to have contact with the defendant, and may have to consider such factors as the safety of the victim, children, and/or immediate family, financial concerns, housing, and transportation.
Domestic violence staff actively refers victims to Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, the local domestic violence program, to assist with victim’s concerns and contribute to the overall safety of the victim and the children.
At the defendant’s initial appearance, a court commissioner considers terms and conditions for the defendant’s release from jail custody. The prosecutor will generally consider that a condition of the defendant’s release on bail will be NO CONTACT WITH THE VICTIM and any other appropriate conditions. Domestic violence victims may request a variety of conditions that may be taken into consideration that range from No Contact to No Threatening or Violent Contact. Special requests may include No Contact Within 24 Hours of Consuming Alcohol or Non-prescription Controlled Substances, No Contact Except By Phone, and/or No Contact Except for Purposes of Child Visitation.
The domestic violence victim has the right to provide the District Attorney’s Office with input, however, the presiding court commissioner or judge will make the ultimate decision regarding conditions of release. At times, the prosecutor may argue for No Contact even when the victim’s input indicates otherwise. The prosecutor will consider the history of violence, extent, and nature of violence, the likelihood of continued risk to the victim and children, and the existence of other court-ordered conditions of no contact such as conditions of the defendant’s probation/parole.
A Restraining Order is a court order limiting defined potential conduct of someone who has abused or harassed you, ordering them not to abuse or contact you. The District Attorney's Office cannot provide legal advice or assistance in filing restraining orders. Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) employs legal advocates who can assist with paperwork, questions, and attend court hearings with you. The DAIS phone number is (608) 251-1237. There are three types of restraining orders:
There is no filing fee for Domestic Abuse Restraining Orders. The petitioner must show the respondent engaged in physical abuse, sexual assault, impairment of physical condition, criminal damage to property, or a threat to do one of these. The respondent must be:
The filing fee for Harassment Restraining Orders is $164.50. The petitioner must show the respondent has been harassing, intimidating, subjecting the victim to physical contact, or has threatened to do so. The court commissioner can waive fees based upon what is written in the Statement of Facts if there are threats or acts of physical violence, non-consensual sexual contact, or stalking behaviors.
There is no fee for Child Abuse Restraining orders. The petitioner must be a child victim, parent, stepparent, or legal guardian of the victim. The petitioner must show emotional, physical, or sexual abuse of the child committed by the respondent.
Restraining Order paperwork is available in the Legal Resource Center in the Dane County Courthouse, Room L1007. Once victims have filled out the Restraining Order packet, go to the Records Center in Room 1000 to sign the Petition in front of a notary (Records Center staff will perform the Notary Act). Records Center staff will summon a Court Commissioner via email. Once a Court Commissioner has reviewed the material and assuming they have approved the same, Records Center staff will make all necessary copies. File all papers with the Clerk of Courts in Room 1000 of the Dane County Courthouse, and follow the next step regarding serving the restraining order. The Commissioner will schedule an injunction hearing and issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) if appropriate. The TRO is in effect until the injunction hearing. This hearing must be held within fourteen days of the TRO being issued.
The TRO must be served (officially delivered) to make it enforceable. It also must be served to let the respondent (alleged abuser) know about the court date for the injunction hearing. Take the papers next door to the Public Safety Building (Dane County Jail) and give them to the Sheriff’s Department, where they will serve these papers on the defendant for a fee. Call the Sheriff's Department at 284-6800 to see if the respondent has been served or to give the Sheriff new information about where the respondent can be found. A private process server may also serve the papers for a fee.
Call the police immediately. Keep a copy of your restraining order with you at all times. If the police arrive and discover the respondent has not yet been served, an officer can serve one of your extra copies. If you need the police to serve your papers, ask the officer to write the following on the copy you are going to keep:
This is the court hearing to grant your long-term Restraining Order. You may bring an attorney if you wish. Please be on time!! If your case is called and you do not show, the restraining order will be dropped. If you are running late, call the Probate Office at (608) 266-4331. The date and time of your hearing will not be changed. If you miss your court date, you may need to show that there has been a new incident of violence in order to file papers again. If you and the respondent appear in court, both of you will testify. If the respondent has been served with a Notice to Appear but does not come to court, the hearing will be based on your testimony alone. You will be under oath. Take your time, admit if you don't remember something, if you are afraid, have defended yourself, called the police, if the respondent has been arrested, and if they have violated the Restraining Order. Be polite and don't interrupt the respondent’s testimony. You will have a chance to respond or ask the respondent questions.
Focus on the following issues when you testify in court:
If the commissioner finds that domestic abuse, harassment, or child abuse has occurred, they may order an injunction (long-term Restraining Order) for as long as the petitioner requests, but not to exceed four years for domestic abuse and two years for harassment or child abuse. A restraining order helps to protect you, but it does not guarantee your safety. Follow a safety plan, especially if you believe that being arrested is not going to stop the respondent from trying to hurt you.
Call the police immediately. The respondent has just committed a crime. Ask the police to have the District Attorney’s office review the case for charges even if no arrest is made. If the respondent is on probation or parole, give a copy of the Restraining Order to the parole agent and report any violations. To find out who their probation agent is, call the Department of Corrections Central Records at (608) 240-3750 and provide the person’s name or birthday.
According to the Department of Justice crime statistics, 85% of battered women are killed by an abusive partner when trying to leave the relationship. Be especially careful about your safety at this time -- don't let a restraining order give you a false sense of security. These are signs that may predict deadly behavior:
If you recognize any of these behaviors, take them very seriously. Reach out for help – call Domestic Abuse Intervention Services at (608) 251-1237, or call the 24-Hour Crisis Line at (608) 251-4445. If the abuser can't find you, they can't kill or hurt you. Careful safety planning is necessary for avoiding surprise attacks. Consider these suggestions and take extra precautions when weapons are present. Always be prepared and alert.