What is Disorderly Conduct Domestic Abuse?

I was charged with Disorderly Conduct Domestic Abuse, but I did not abuse anyone.  

“Disorderly Conduct Domestic Abuse” is a short way to say “Disorderly Conduct with a Domestic Abuse Surcharge”.  The actual crime that is charged is “Disorderly Conduct[i].” The “domestic abuse” part is not a criminal charge itself but references the Domestic Abuse Surcharge that is added to a charged crime if that crime was an act of domestic violence under the law.

The Domestic Abuse Surcharge is authorized under Wisconsin Statutes §973.055. Courts are directed to impose a surcharge of $100 for each qualifying offense for which they impose a sentence or place an adult on probation for that offense.    

Anytime a court convicts a person of Violating a Domestic Abuse Injunction, the surcharge is applied.  In addition, the surcharge is applied to a variety of other crimes,[ii] including Disorderly Conduct, if the court finds that the conduct constituting the violation involved an act by the adult person against any of the following:

The actor’s spouse

The actor’s former spouse

An adult with whom the actor resides

An adult with whom the actor formerly resided

An adult with whom the actor has created a child 

To be convicted of Disorderly Conduct in Wisconsin, the State must prove the actor (1) engaged in violent/ abusive/ indecent/ profane/ boisterous/ unreasonably loud/ otherwise disorderly conduct, and (2) the conduct of the actor, under the circumstances as they then existed, tended to cause or provoke a disturbance. When the Domestic Abuse Surcharge is added to the offense, the State has the additional burden of proving that the conduct that constituted Disorderly Conduct involved an act by the actor against a person who falls into one of the above-specified categories of people.  

Although the phrase “disorderly conduct domestic abuse” may sound like an accusation of physical violence, under Wisconsin law, it really means that there was conduct, such as violent, profane, or unreasonably loud conduct, that was directed towards someone such as a spouse, and that conduct, under the circumstances at the time, tended to cause or provoke a disturbance. 

An individual who is convicted of multiple crimes with the Domestic Abuse Surcharge can face additional consequences.  Under §939.621[iii], a person who has been convicted on 2 or more separate occasions of a felony or misdemeanor with the Domestic Abuse Surcharge within the 10 years immediately prior they can be labeled a domestic abuse repeater.” Domestic Abuse Repeaters who engage in additional crimes of domestic violence, upon conviction of such crimes, can face an additional two years of imprisonment.

The Domestic Abuse Surcharge does not change the conduct that is criminalized under the Disorderly Conduct statute, but it marks a person’s record for potential additional penalties in the future and to show that the victim of the conduct was a person who fell into a specific category of people. 

[i] https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/document/statutes/947.01

[ii] 1. The court convicts the person of a violation of a crime specified in s. 940.01940.02940.03940.05940.06940.19940.20 (1m)940.201940.21940.225940.23940.235940.285940.30940.305940.31940.32940.42940.43940.44940.45940.48941.20941.30943.01943.011943.14943.15946.49947.01 (1)947.012 or 947.0125 or of a municipal ordinance conforming to s. 940.201941.20941.30943.01943.011943.14943.15946.49947.01 (1)947.012 or 947.0125; https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/973/055#:~:text=1.%20The%20court,or%20947.0125%3B%20and

[iii] https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/document/statutes/939.621