Can my ex-wife file domestic violence charges against me?

You may have thought your Wisconsin marriage over until your ex-wife files domestic violence charges against you. Unfortunately, your former spouse has court protection against you regarding domestic abuse as long as you share a child. Whether or not they can convict you of the charges largely comes down to your intentions.

Wisconsin statute 968.075 outlines the circumstances and law enforcement policies surrounding domestic abuse incidents. Should law enforcement believe you have committed domestic abuse against your ex-wife or your shared child, they can arrest you especially if you are the predominant aggressor. You do not have to be the one who started the incident to be the predominant aggressor.

The law defines domestic abuse as intentionally causing physical impairment, inflicting an illness, pain or injury, committing sexual assault or creating fear that you would do any of those. The officer only needs reasonable grounds to arrest you for the charge. In essence, the officer needs evidence of a physical injury, determine the predominant aggressor or reasonably believe the abuse will continue.

The arresting officer should take the history between you and your ex-spouse into consideration before establishing the predominant aggressor in the incident. Your ex-wife has up to 28 days to file a report for law enforcement to step in and make an arrest. Should a law enforcement officer arrest you for domestic violence, you cannot visit the residence within 72 hours immediately following your arrest.

Each law enforcement agency within the state may implement its own policies addressing how the officers make arrest decisions for these types of incidents. This information is intended only to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.