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What is a 72-hour no contact order in DV cases?

The 72-hour no contact order in Wisconsin domestic abuse cases.

Wisconsin prosecutors take domestic abuse cases very seriously.  Law enforcement officers are required to arrest suspects if the officer believes the individual committed an act of domestic abuse.  Additionally, in certain domestic abuse situations, law enforcement requires a mandatory 72-hour no contact order.

The criminal defense lawyers at Meyer Van Severen certainly defend domestic abuse cases.  And we regularly defend these cases.  If you’re accused of committing a DV offense, or any other crime, call us.  You can reach our defense attorneys 24/7 at (414) 270-0202.


Firstly, what is “domestic abuse”?

Section 968.075(1)(a) defines domestic abuse:

“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 in common”

  1. Intentional infliction of physical pain, physical injury or illness.
  2. Intentional impairment of physical condition.
  3. First degree sexual assault, second degree sexual assault, or third degree sexual assault.
  4. A physical act that may cause the other person reasonably to fear imminent engagement in the conduct described above.

This statutory definition of domestic abuse is straightforward.  But you’ll still notice a few things.  Firstly, there’s a required relationship (or past relationship).  Domestic abuse cases are not based upon a simply boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.  The two must  live together, have a child together, or be married (or previously held any of these statuses).  Secondly, there has to be one of the four physical actions paired with the relationship.  Words, on their own, are usually not enough.


Secondly, the domestic abuse mandatory arrest:

Section 968.075(2) discusses mandatory arrests in domestic violence situations.  Law enforcement officers must take a person into custody if:

  • The officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person is committing or has committed domestic violence and that person’s actions constitute the commission of a crime; and
  • Any of the following apply:
    • The officer has a reasonable basis for believing that continued domestic abuse against the alleged victim is likely.
    • There is evidence of physical injury to the alleged victim.
    • The person is the predominant aggressor.

How do officers identify the predominant aggressor? Law enforcement officers consider the history of domestic abuse between the parties, statements made by witnesses, the relative degree of injury inflicted on the parties, the extent to which each person present appears to fear any party, threatened harm against other parties, and whether self-defense was involved.

Certainly this is a low-bar for arrest.  But significantly, there are also plenty of outs for a cop to avoid arresting the defendant.


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The 72-hour no contact order.

The 72-hour no contact order only applies to domestic abuse cases.  And particularly, it only applies when officers arrest the defendant.

The order requires the arrested person to avoid the residence of the victim and any premises temporarily occupied by the alleged victim.  The order also certainly requires the arrested person avoid contacting or having any person, other than law enforcement personnel or attorneys to contact the victim.  Our advice is to certainly avoid any location you believe the alleged victim could be.  Under the standard used in Wisconsin, an individual may be in violation of the 72-hour no contact order even if he doesn’t have actual, physical contact with the alleged victim.

Importantly, the victim can waive the no contact order.


How do we beat a charge based on violation of the no-contact order?

Certainly defending individuals accused of violating no contact orders is difficult.  But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

There are a few technical defenses to this charge.  The first, and most simple, is if the alleged victim waives the no contact order.  Simply put: The victim doesn’t want the 72-hour no contact order in place.  Once waived, the prohibitions involving contact no longer apply.  The alleged victim has the right to waive the no contact order at any point during the 72 hours.

Second is when law enforcement fails to advise the defendant of the 72-hour no contact order.  The law enforcement officer must inform the arrested orally, and in writing, of the no contact order.  The arrested person must sign an acknowledgment of the written notice.  Upon a failure to sign the written notice, law enforcement may hold the defendant in custody.


What are the penalties for violating a no contact order?

Violating a no contact order, injunction, or restraining order is a Class A misdemeanor in Wisconsin.  That crime is punishable by 9 months in jail, a $10,000.00 fine, or both.

The government must prove certain elements (parts) of the crime, beyond a reasonable doubt, in order to sustain a conviction against you.  Wisconsin Jury Instruction Criminal 2040 provides those elements:

  • A temporary restraining order was issued against the defendant in favor of the alleged victim; and
  • The defendant committed an act that violated the terms of the temporary restraining order; and
  • The defendant knew that the temporary restraining order had been issued, and that his acts violated its terms.

The straight defenses to these elements are technical.  Perhaps law enforcement didn’t properly issue the 72-hour no contact order.  Perhaps the defendant didn’t commit an act that violated the terms of the order.  Or, finally, maybe the defendant didn’t sign the form.  In that case, the government would have a hard time alleging he knew the order was issued.


Hire a top Wisconsin criminal defense attorney

Experienced criminal defense attorneys best deal with domestic violence cases.  The defense attorneys at Meyer Van Severen, S.C. are recognized as amongst the best in Wisconsin.  Certainly we’ve defended cases involving violation of a no contact order.  Don’t hire the cheapest defense attorney.  Certainly hire the best defense attorney.

Call us at (414) 270-0202.  Let’s start defending your case.