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Verbal Argument Can be Domestic Abuse

I got into a verbal argument with my wife. Why am I being charged with Domestic Abuse?

Many clients ask why they are being charged with Domestic Abuse for getting into a verbal argument with their spouse. Basically, the reason is that under Wisconsin Law such conduct can constitute domestic abuse under certain circumstances. Wisconsin, Statute 968.075(1)(a) defines “Domestic Abuse” as:

  • (1)(a) “Domestic Abuse” means any of the following engaged in by an adult person against his or her spouse or former spouse, against an adult with whom the person resides or formerly resided or against an adult with whom the person has a child in common:
  • (1) Intentional infliction of physical pain, physical injury or illness.
  • (2) Intentional impairment of physical condition
  • (3) A violation of s.940.225 (1), (2) or (3).
  • (4) A physical act that may cause the other person reasonably to fear imminent engagement in the conduct described under sub sections 1, 2, or 3.

What does the definition of Domestic Abuse teach us?

First, there are four types of relationships that qualify. The first is your spouse; the second is any former spouse; the third is anyone you currently live with or previously lived with; and the fourth is anyone you share a child with.

Moreover, the second thing the definition tells us is the type of conduct necessary to qualify as domestic abuse. Much like the first part of the definition, there are essentially four categories of conduct that can qualify as domestic abuse. The first includes conduct that inflicts physical pain, injury or illness to the other person. The second includes conduct that causes impairment of physical condition. The third includes sexual assault related conduct and the final can be classified as a catch-all category. This final category includes any type of conduct that may cause a reasonable person to fear any of the previously described conduct.

Is a verbal argument covered by the definition of Domestic Abuse?

From reading the definition of domestic abuse, it can be confusing where a verbal argument might fall. Arguably it is in the last catch-all category that many of the verbal arguments turn into criminal domestic abuse. Unfortunate most people think of domestic abuse entirely as physical situation. As we learn form the Wisconsin definition, that is not always the case. Even if someone does not directly threaten physical harm, an argument could still be classified as domestic abuse under this definition.

In most situations if the incident only entails a verbal argument, the likely criminal charge you may be facing in Disorderly Conduct. If that is the case, you could simply be looking at a municipal citation for the situation, however, you could also be facing a criminal charge.  So, the next time you feel like you are getting into an argument with your spouse or significant other, remember that even if the argument does not turn physical, it may still be considered domestic abuse.

Contact the criminal defense attorneys at Meyer Van Severen, S.C. for any criminal defense issues

If you find yourself in this situation where you are arrested for domestic abuse, contact Meyer Van Severen today for legal representation. Our criminal defense attorneys regularly represent people charged with domestic abuse. Additionally, our attorneys have successfully resolved domestic abuse cases both before and at trial. Without doubt, if you are looking to hire a top Milwaukee criminal defense attorney, contact us at (414) 270-0202.

Attorney Matt Last