Is Violating a Restraining Order a Criminal Offense in Wisconsin?

 Posted on March 06, 2024 in Criminal Defense

In Wisconsin, restraining orders are sometimes used in situations where a person is accused of engaging in domestic violence, child abuse, or stalking/harassment. While these orders are necessary in some cases to protect the safety of victims, they may be based on false accusations. However, regardless of whether a restraining order is legitimate or is used as a tactic to gain an advantage in a divorce or child custody case, it is important to follow orders put in place by the court. Violations could result in criminal charges and serious penalties.

Understanding the legal ramifications of violating a restraining order is essential for anyone who has been accused of domestic violence or related offenses. An attorney with experience in criminal defense and family law can provide representation in these cases, helping address accusations of abuse and working to lift any restrictions put in place by the court.

Understanding Restraining Orders in Wisconsin

A restraining order, also known as a protective order, may be put in place by a court in situations involving allegations of domestic abuse, child abuse, or harassment. When protection is requested by a person who claims that they have been the victim of one of the above allegations, a court may issue a temporary restraining order and schedule a hearing. In this hearing, both parties may provide their side of the story, make arguments for why a restraining order is or is not needed, and present evidence related to the accusations of abuse.

If a judge determines that there is a continuing need for protection against abuse, an injunction may be issued. This injunction may remain in effect for a maximum of four years, although it can be extended by an additional four years if necessary and sometimes longer depending on circumstances or allegations, not to exceed ten years. Restraining orders and injunctions are meant to protect victims from further harm by placing specific restrictions in place to prevent domestic violence, abuse, or harassment.

Restrictions Under a Restraining Order

When a restraining order is put in place, the court may impose several restrictions, including but not limited to:

  • No contact: The respondent may be prohibited from contacting, visiting, or coming within a certain distance of the alleged victim’s home, workplace, or other specified locations. This is to include no contact through a third party or contact by means of an electronic or mobile device.
  • Exclusive possession of a shared residence: The respondent may be required to vacate their home, and they may only be allowed to return to the residence for a limited time to retrieve certain belongings.
  • Child custody and visitation: Decisions may be made about how custody and physical placement of children will be handled while a restraining order is in effect. In some cases, a person may be restricted to supervised visitation with their children.
  • Firearm possession: A restraining order will typically prohibit the respondent from owning or possessing firearms. They will be required to turn over any firearms they own to their local sheriff for as long as a temporary restraining order or injunction is in effect.

Legal Consequences of Violating a Restraining Order

Violating a restraining order in Wisconsin is a serious offense. If a person disobeys any of the terms of a restraining order or injunction, they may be arrested by law enforcement. Even if the person did not attend a hearing, if they received a copy of an injunction or were aware that the injunction had been issued, they can be charged with a violation.

The penalties for violating a restraining order include fines of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to nine months. More serious penalties may apply for certain violations. If a person who is subject to a restraining order is accused of committing battery against a person who received protection under a restraining order or injunction, they may be charged with a Class I felony, which carries a potential sentence of three and a half years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. Possession of a firearm in violation of a restraining order or injunction is a Class G felony, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years, as well as a maximum fine of $25,000.

Contact a Milwaukee, WI Restraining Order Violation Attorney

Given the serious nature of restraining order violations and the potential for significant legal consequences, legal representation is crucial in these cases. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, our experienced Milwaukee restraining order defense lawyers can advise you of your rights, represent your interests in court, and help you navigate the complexities of the legal system to ensure your rights are protected.

Our attorneys will help you determine how to respond if a temporary restraining order has been issued based on accusations of domestic violence. We can also help you address any related issues regarding child custody or divorce. Contact our firm at 414-271-1440 to discuss your case and explore your legal options.