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Disorderly Conduct Charges Dismissed

Client charged with disorderly conduct while singing Happy Birthday. Disorderly conduct charges dismissed.

Domestic argument results in charges for disorderly conduct. Domestic disorderly conduct charges reduced to ordinance violation.

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domestic Disorderly Conduct

Under Wisconsin laws, the situation and circumstances of an alleged disorderly conduct police call determine which of two crimes police will use to make an arrest, and subsequently the charge that the prosecutor will use to prosecute the alleged defendant: a disorderly conduct or a disorderly conduct - domestic. Both disorderly conduct criminal classifications can result in jail time, fines and probation. Both carry stiff penalties. However, a conviction for a domestic disorderly conduct charge carries additional and much more severe penalties including the inability to possess a firearm.

Wisconsin Disorderly Conduct Laws

Under Wisconsin laws, statutes providing the elements of criminal disorderly conduct are vague, which results in police being given very broad authority to make an arrest on very obscure evidence. In fact, police can use their perception of a situation to make an arrest for disorderly conduct or domestic disorderly conduct.

Wisconsin Domestic Disorderly Conduct Laws

The domestic qualifier (defined below) provides stricter guidelines for police in the sense that Wisconsin law requires police departments to maintain policies mandating the procedures that must be followed if police are called to a disorderly conduct situation involving people with a domestic relationship. In almost all Wisconsin counties, those policies providing procedures for domestic disturbance police calls require police to make an arrest of one or more domestically related people. As is the case in disorderly conduct police calls, the behavior that caused police to be called to the scene does not need to be obvious to police upon their arrival. Even if it appears that everyone is calm, and that no further dispute is occurring, police can still arrest one or more people.

Domestic Relationships

The relationship between two people is classified as a domestic relationship if any one of the following conditions is true:

  • The people currently living together in the same household whether or not married;
  • The people previously lived together in the same household;
  • The people are related by blood or marriage;
  • The people are parents to a common child; or
  • One person is pregnant and the other is the alleged father of that child.

A domestic disorderly conduct charge is distinguished from a disorderly conduct charge by the domestic qualifier, but its bite has a much more severe and long-lasting effect. If convicted of a domestic disorderly charge involving domestic abuse or violence, the conviction will be reported on CCAP, will appear on a background check to purchase a firearm, will prevent purchase of a firearm, can prevent employment in a nursing home or work with vulnerable adults, and will prevent employment in a childcare center. The handgun restriction will apply while the charge appears on the criminal record of the person convicted, during probation, and in some situations, even after probation. A domestic abuse restraining order will likely be ordered, or at minimum, suggested at the time of arrest, and the court will order the convicted person to surrender all firearms to police.

Disorderly Conduct Acts

Like disorderly conduct, domestic disorderly conduct applies to acts that occurred before police arrive at the scene, as well as acts in the presence of police. In that most police departments maintain policies requiring mandatory arrest of one or more people involved in a domestic disorderly conduct incident, at least one person must be arrested if a domestic abuse or disorderly incident involving domestically qualified people has occurred.

As noted, the law is vague about what constitutes an act under the disorderly conduct statute. So, a disorderly act may mean yelling, shouting obscenities or using profanity, verbal assault, screaming, or any physical assault including physical contact or throwing an object towards another person. The acts can also include calmer behavior that may provoke a disturbance or that has already caused a disturbance.

Domestic Victim of Disorderly Conduct

Unlike disorderly conduct, a domestic disorderly conduct offense has a victim: the person with whom a relationship either does or did exist that qualifies as a domestic relationship. The acts however do not need to be directed at that person - the law is vague, and if police recognize a domestic relationship and a disorderly act in the same vein, an arrest is likely. Remember, an arrest is not a conviction; an arrest merely makes the statement that some police officer believed, perceived, felt or thought that a disorderly situation existed. The state must move that to be the case.

Police Responses to Domestic Disorderly Conduct Calls

Under Wisconsin law, police departments are required to create and maintain a policy for handling various types of police calls, including domestic disputes. In most Wisconsin counties, those policies require that one or both of the domestically related people involved in a dispute must be arrested. In many instances, such police calls are made to homes where current or previous spouses reside; in those instances, at least one of the spouses are arrested if policy mandates it.

Domestic Disorderly Conduct Penalties If Convicted

The domestic classification to a disorderly conduct charge changes the penalties available to the court to impose upon a person convicted of domestic disorderly conduct. In addition to the penalties for a Class B Misdemeanor, the following penalties - although not exhaustive - might also be imposed.

Injunction To Refrain From Contact

When police make an arrest of one or more parties involved in a domestic disorderly conduct situation, a police officer will offer the victim of victims a no-contact order. If a no-contact order is issued, the alleged defendant may not have contact with the victim or victims for 72 hours. The injunction can be extended by the court or dismissed by the court. The victim can also request that the injunction be dismissed, but it is up to the court whether a dismissal will be ordered.

No Firearm Possession

The court can (and will in a violent domestic disorderly conduct case) order the convicted defendant to refrain from possessing any firearm. The order will state that the defendant has been convicted of a violent or domestic crime, and is prohibited from possessing a firearm. The court's order will show up in any background check conducted for the purpose of acquiring a firearm, and any employment check conducted into the applicant's criminal record.

Surrender All Weapons

Because a domestic disorderly conduct conviction includes an order prohibiting the defendant from possessing a firearm, the court will ask the defendant to surrender all weapons in his or her possession to the court. It is up to the defendant to disclose an inventory of any weapons that he or she possesses.


The convicted defendant will be ordered to pay fines. The amounts and arrangements will be ordered by the court.


In many instances involving domestic disorderly conduct convictions, the defendant is ordered into probation with conditions. The typical conditions include counseling, usually in the form of anger management therapy or similar behavioral modification therapies.

Avoiding Very Bad Outcomes

The best way to avoid being arrested for a domestic disorderly conduct offense is to avoid situations involving people or circumstances that can lead to police being called to the scene, arguments, abuse or domestic disagreements. Often times, our clients find themselves in situations that erupt in arguments due to money or job situations, with absolutely no intent to cause anyone harm. Unfortunately, police didn't see the situation in the same light, and an arrest is made. Subsequently, if nothing is done to take care of the charges, jobs are lost and relationships are destroyed. The situation seems bleak, and the walls feel like they are caving in. By placing your trust in the hands of the attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood, you can rest reassured that you have done all that is possible to ensure the best outcome.

Free Initial Consultation

Attorney Christopher Van Wagner & Attorney Tracey Wood offer a free initial consultation to anyone that has been arrested on domestic disorderly conduct charges. Please call ( locally in Madison WI, or toll free) to speak with an attorney right away. They will give you a free, but professional "first-impression" analysis of your case with straight-forward legal advice that you can trust. You can also submit your case information for a reply via telephone, email, fax or regular mail.