Domestic Violence Unit

Dane County District Attorney's Office
215 S. Hamilton St. #3000
Madison, WI 53703-3297

Phone: (608) 266-9003
Fax: (608) 261-9766

Mandatory Arrest

In Wisconsin, law enforcement officers are required to make an arrest in domestic violence incidents when certain criteria are met:

  1. The intentional infliction of physical pain, physical injury or illness; or impairment of physical condition;
  2. First, Second, or Third Degree Sexual Assault; and / or;
  3. Any physical act that may cause the other person to reasonably fear physical or sexual assault.

The domestic relationship between the alleged suspect and victim can be defined as:

  1. Spouse or former spouse;
  2. Adult with whom the person resides or formerly resided with;
  3. Adult with whom the person has a child in common.

Charging Decisions

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:

  • Victim and witness statements who saw the events at issue or heard noises indicating a domestic violence incident was happening, i.e., screams, furniture being thrown, etc.
  • Excited utterances with the victim present or admissions by the suspect to police or others.
  • Extent of and prior history of violence in the relationship; prior convictions of the defendant; pending conditions related to bail; pending injunctions.
  • Injuries and medical reports indicating injuries; 911 tapes with victim / witness / suspect’s statements; jail recordings.
  • Physical evidence such as weapons, broken furniture, torn clothing, disarray.

Victims of domestic violence face many obstacles when continuing to have contact with the defendant, and may have to consider such factors as 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. Domestic Abuse Intervention Services: (608) 251-4445

Click on these links for information about Restraining Orders and Victim Rights.

Initial Appearances & Release On Bail

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, 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.