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  • Everson Law Firm

Important Legal Differences between Domestic Violence and Battery

Domestic violence and battery are two terms that are often used interchangeably in daily life. However, in the legal system in Wisconsin, there are significant differences between the two.

Here’s what you need to know about the difference between domestic violence and battery in Wisconsin.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence has a more broad definition than many people would think. At its core, domestic violence is defined as abusive behavior between people in a relationship, but that relationship doesn’t need to be romantic. Domestic violence in Wisconsin can occur between individuals in the following relationships:

  • Spouses;

  • Former spouses;

  • Adult roommates;

  • Adult former roommates; or

  • Adults who have had a child together.

Domestic violence can occur in many forms. Examples of domestic violence include:

  • Physical abuse, such as hitting, kicking, pushing, or choking;

  • Emotional abuse, such as threats, intimidation, or humiliation;

  • Sexual abuse, such as forced sexual acts or unwanted sexual contact; and

  • Psychological abuse, such as harassment, manipulation, or controlling behavior.

In Wisconsin, domestic violence is a criminal offense modifier that subjects defendants too harsh penalties and serious indirect consequences. If someone is found guilty of a crime involving domestic violence, they may be required to attend counseling, undergo anger management treatment, or serve time in jail. In addition, Wisconsin law includes a no contact requirement following an arrest for domestic violence. This requirement states that unless the domestic violence victim signs a written agreement waiving the requirement, the defendant may not have contact with the victim for 72 hours or more following the arrest.

What is Battery?

To “batter” someone is to physically assault them in a way that involves an intentional or reckless infliction of bodily harm. Unlike domestic violence, battery does not require a specific relationship between the offender and the victim. Battery can occur between people who have known each other their whole lives or complete strangers. Because of this, in certain cases an individual may have committed acts that could be considered both battery and domestic violence.

In Wisconsin, battery is considered a criminal misdemeanor offense, but it can become a felony if substantial bodily harm was caused. Penalties for battery can range from fines to imprisonment or both. The severity of the penalty depends on the circumstances surrounding the incident, such as the severity of the victim's injuries, the offender's criminal history and if the victim was operating in an official capacity (such as a law enforcement officer, juror or health professional) at the time of the incident.

Examples of battery include:

  • Punching, kicking, or slapping someone;

  • Hitting someone with an object, such as a baseball bat or a bottle;

  • Using a weapon, such as a gun or a knife, to injure someone; and

  • Recklessly causing harm to someone by driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The Difference between Domestic Violence and Battery

While battery and domestic violence both involve harm done to another individual, there are two key differences:

  1. The type of abuse - The crime of battery specifically applies to physical harm and damage done to the body of another individual, while domestic violence can also include emotional, psychological or sexual abuse.

  2. The nature of the relationship - In order to perpetrate domestic violence, the crime must be committed between individuals in a certain kind of relationship. On the other hand, battery can occur between any two individuals.

Moreover, the legal system in Wisconsin tends to prosecute domestic violence offenses more severely than battery. Domestic violence is often seen as a form of coercion or control, which can result in long-lasting emotional and psychological trauma. Battery, on the other hand, can be seen as a specific act of violence that can result in physical harm but may not necessarily involve the same level of psychological manipulation or control.

If you or someone you know has experienced an incident of domestic violence, call the national domestic violence hotline at 800-799-7233.

Schedule a Consultation

If you believe you have been involved with an incident of domestic violence or battery, or are being accused of a crime involving domestic violence, the experienced attorneys at The Everson Law Firm can assist you. Contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys, today.


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