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Wisconsin laws provide two types of disorderly conduct crimes: disorderly conduct and disorderly conduct - domestic. Both classifications of disorderly conduct charges can result in jail time, fines and probation; however, a domestic disorderly conduct charge has additional penalties including restrictions on a person's right to bear arms (hunt or carry a gun or other dangerous weapon). Where a disorderly conduct charge can be brought against strangers involved in a fight, a domestic disorderly charges requires that the relationship of the persons involved in the disorderly conduct qualifies as a "domestic" relationship (see domestic disorderly charge).
Disorderly conduct charges are one of the more frequently charged crimes in the state of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Disorderly Conduct Laws
Under Wisconsin Statute 947.01 - Disorderly Conduct - police are given very vague and very broad authority to arrest people in both public and private places (including their homes) for any conduct that may (in the police officer's opinion) be either provoking or causing a disturbance currently, or that has the potential to provoke or cause a disturbance after police leave the scene.
WI Statute 947.01: Disorderly Conduct. Whoever, in a public or private place, engages in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud, or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.
Police arrest people for disorderly conduct by citing many types of behavior. As well, the behavior that could be classified as being "disorderly" need not be currently obvious. The behavior could have occurred prior to police arriving on the scene. Even if no disturbance appears to be occurring at the time that police arrive on the scene, but it appears to a police officer that there is a potential for the behavior to continue after police leave the scene, an arrest can (and often does) occur.
Disorderly Conduct Law Applies To Telephone Calls
Wisconsin's disorderly conduct laws also apply to telephone calls if the call is placed with intent to frighten, intimidate, threaten, abuse, or even harass another person. Police arrest people every day under the vague disorderly conduct laws of Wisconsin. While they may ponder an arrest for conduct that incites some form of disorderly conduct in another person, they almost never hesitate when the provocation is by a group or upon a group of people. If a threat to inflict injury or physical harm upon another person or another person's property is made, an arrest is highly likely to occur.
Disorderly Conduct Applies To Computers and Internet Usage
Wisconsin law defines a message as a sign, signal, writing, image, sound, data or intelligence of any nature whatsoever, which includes e-mail. Under Wisconsin law (WI Stat 947.0125), if a person sends a message to another person via e-mail or any other computer communication system and in that message threatens to inflict injury or physical harm to any person or any person's property, intends to frighten, intimidate, threaten, abuse or harass any person, or uses profanity, obscene materials, lewd, profane or suggestively lewd or profane language, whether or not the message is actually received, and whether or not the sender attempts to conceal his or her identity, the district attorney can bring charges for disorderly conduct or criminal harassment. A disorderly conduct conviction under this statute is a Class B misdemeanor.
If the intent was to do something lesser than the above, such as to harass, annoy or offend another person, then the sending of a message via email or any other communication system is a Class B forfeiture.
Disorderly Conduct Police Calls
Under Wisconsin law, police departments are required to create and maintain a policy for handling various types of police calls, including domestic disputes.
Domestic Disorderly Conduct Police Calls
In an attempt to reduce serious domestic dispute violence, the state instituted mandatory arrest requirements on police called to the scene of a dispute in which one or more of the persons qualified as having a domestic relationship (see Domestic Disorderly Charges).
Disorderly Conduct Penalties If Convicted
Victim or Victimless Crimes
Wisconsin law does not require a victim; however, if one or more victims exist, then the state prosecuting attorney may subpoena testimony at a court hearing.
Jail Time, Fines, Probation
A disorderly conduct conviction absent any other conviction will carry penalties up to those provided for a Class B misdemeanor. The penalties for a domestic disorderly conviction are more severe (see Domestic Disorderly Conduct).
Avoiding Bad Outcomes
The sad truth about disorderly conduct charges is that people often assume they are trite; they are not. Disorderly conduct charges can have lasting effects on a person's future including where they can be employed, with whom they can work, and whether they can obtain particular licenses. Often times, when people attempt to represent themselves in disorderly conduct cases, they are surprised by the court's stern response imposing jail time, fines and probation. The good news about disorderly conduct charges is that while there are no promises or guarantees available, the charges can often be dealt with in a manner that is beneficial for the alleged defendant.
Free Initial Consultation
Christopher T. Van Wagner and Tracey A. Wood devote their law practices to defending people who have been charged with a criminal offense in Wisconsin, including disorderly conduct and domestic disorderly conduct charges. If you have been arrested for disorderly conduct, or if you have already been convicted and believe your conviction or sentence were wrong and want to appeal, please contact the attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood right away for a free initial consultation. The sooner you act to circumvent the situation, the better your chances of a more favorable resolution.
Schedule An Initial Consultation
To schedule an initial consultation with an attorney at Van Wagner & Wood, please:
- Call locally in Madison WI, or 1- toll free, or
- Click on the CALL ME button on the contact us page, or
- Send your case information to the attorneys and ask for reply by telephone (be sure to include your telephone numbers and the best time to reach you)
Consultation Via Telephone
The attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood prefer to meet with you for your first consultation, but people sometimes are pressed for time and cannot meet in person. In those situations, an attorney may be able to initially consult with you on the telephone. Please ask when you call or email.
Consultation Via E-mail
It is very difficult for any attorney to gather all of the necessary information via email to provide a free consultation regarding a criminal charge. In situations where information is requested through the online criminal case form or email, they can only provide general information about the laws in Wisconsin and a general answer as to whether they can help you. It is always best to talk with an attorney at Van Wagner & Wood by phone or in person.