In Vilas County, there are many arrests for domestic violence crimes every year. It is also widely accepted that 95% of all domestic crimes are committed by men on women. Considering that children who grow up in violent homes have a six times greater chance of committing crimes against persons, and are twice as likely to commit rape combating domestic violence is, and should be of great concern to citizens in our state.


In response to the problems posed by domestic violence, on April 1, 1989 the State of Wisconsin enacted State Statute 968.075, which makes arrest mandatory in domestic abuse cases where any crime has been committed. The law identifies domestic relationship as existing between any adult person, their spouse, former spouse, or any adult person the person resides with or has formerly resided with, or any adult with whom the person has a child in common. The law mandates that law enforcement officers shall arrest the person who is determined to be the primary physical aggressor.


The Mandatory Arrest Law states that arrest is required if the investigating officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has been committed by someone involved in a domestic relationship, and that either the officer believes that continuing domestic abuse is likely, or there is evidence of physical injury to the alleged victim. Officers are required to make arrests for any incident of domestic violence which is reported to have occurred within 28 days of the time the report is filed.


A domestic relationship can include married and unmarried couples living together, ex-spouses who resided together, room mates and ex-room mates who lived together, parents or their grown children who reside together and are adults, or any adults who share children in common, whether they have ever resided together or not. This is an all encompassing law that is meant to be protective of all victims, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.


Whenever an officer has reasonable grounds to believe that individuals involved in a domestic relationship has committed acts of domestic violence against each other, the officer is required to physically arrest only the person determined to be the primary physical aggressor. The primary physical aggressor is determined by considering the relative degree of injury or fear inflicted on the persons involved, and any history of domestic abuse between the people involved, keeping in mind the intent of the law to protect victims of domestic violence.


Often, both parties have committed a crime, and under these circumstances, the primary physical aggressor may be arrested while charges against the other party may be forwarded for consideration by the District Attorney's Office. Arrests for domestic abuse in Wisconsin are pursued whether the victim wants to pursue charges against the arrested person or not. This precludes circumstances where the abuser can blame the victim for pursuing charges.


The Mandatory Arrest Law also set up further provisions for the protection of victims of domestic violence. It provides for an automatic 72 hour period of no contact with the arrested party, unless the victim chooses to have this no contact period waived. If the victim chooses to have the 72 hour no contact provision enforced, the arrested person is then mandated by law to avoid the residence of the victim or any premises temporarily occupied by the victim . The arrested person is also ordered to avoid contacting the victim or having any other person contact the victim other than law enforcement officers or attorneys for the arrested person.


Both of these restrictions are in effect for a period of 72 hours from the time of arrest, and if the arrested person violates the terms of the 72 hour no contact provision, they may be arrested solely for that violation, even if no other crime was committed.