Even if they know they can seek a restraining order against their abuser, they may not know the actual steps they need to take to obtain legal protection. At Karp & Iancu, S.C., we recognize the delicate situation you are in when dealing with domestic violence and abuse. That is why our skilled, compassionate Fox Point restraining order attorneys can guide you through the legal process. We assist clients throughout Wisconsin in obtaining temporary restraining orders and permanent injunctions against the abusers, stalkers, and harassers who are making life miserable for your and your family. You do not need to deal with the problem alone because we are here to help.
Are You a Victim of Domestic Abuse?
We often associate domestic abuse with spousal violence. But in legal terms, Wisconsin defines domestic abuse quite broadly to encompass a number of situations where someone faces threatening or abusive conduct by someone close to them. You can actually seek a domestic abuse restraining order against any of the following people who have harmed you:
- your current spouse;
- your former spouse;
- someone who you are currently dating or have previously dated;
- someone with whom you have a child in common;
- someone you live with or have lived with;
- your parent;
- your adult child; or
- your caregiver.
In terms of what qualifies as “abuse” for purposes of a domestic abuse restraining order, here too the law is quite broad in the conduct it covers. You can seek protection based on any of the following actions:
- intentional infliction of physical pain, or causing you physical injury or illness;
- sexual assault;
- destroying any property that belongs to you; or
- making threats to do any of the things listed above.
How Restraining Orders Work in Wisconsin
Wisconsin divides restraining orders into two categories: Temporary restraining orders (TROs) and permanent injunctions. When someone is abusing your–or threatening abuse against you–your first step is normally to seek a TRO. As you can probably guess, a TRO is a short-term or temporary remedy. Here are the key things you to need to know about a Wisconsin TRO:
- A court can issue a TRO ex parte, meaning the person you are seeking the order against (the respondent) does not have to be notified in advance.
- A TRO only lasts until the court can hold a hearing to decide whether to issue a permanent injunction. This hearing must be within 14 days of issuing the TRO unless the court grants an extension.
- If a TRO is issued, you must serve it on the respondent.
A Wisconsin judge can only issue a permanent injunction after holding a hearing. The respondent has the right to appear at this hearing and present evidence in their defense. But if the respondent fails to show after being notified, the court can still proceed in their absence and issue an injunction.
A permanent injunction typically lasts no more than 4 years in Wisconsin. But you can ask the court to extend the injunction for up to 10 years if you can prove there is a substantial risk that the respondent will commit certain violent felonies against you, such as intentional homicide (murder), sexual assault (rape) or sexual assault against your children.
How a Wisconsin Restraining Order Can Help You
A common question we get is, “What does a restraining order actually do?” In simplest terms, a restraining order forbids the respondent from committing any acts of domestic abuse against you. More specifically, the court can order any or all of the following:
- The respondent must stay away from your residence or any location that you are temporarily occupying, such as a hotel or domestic violence shelter.
- If you are living in the respondent’s home and do not have any ownership stake in the property, the court can order the respondent to stay away until you are able to safely relocate.
- The respondent cannot contact you directly or through a third party, such as a relative, except for your attorney or a member of law enforcement.
- The respondent cannot harm your pets or keep your pets away from you. The respondent must also allow you or your family member to retrieve any of your pets that may be in the respondent’s possession.
- If the court issues a final injunction, the respondent can be ordered to transfer your telephone number and account to you.
- If the court issues a final injunction, the respondent can be ordered to turn over any firearms in their possession to law enforcement and refrain from purchasing any new firearms (unless they are a member of law enforcement themselves).
It is against the law to violate a TRO or permanent injunction. If your abuser violates your restraining order, you should call the police right away. The police can arrest the violator who may then be prosecuted for a misdemeanor offense. While not as serious as a felony, a conviction for violating a restraining order still carries a potential 9-month prison sentence in Wisconsin. Additionally, you can ask the judge who issued your restraining order to hold the respondent in civil contempt of court.