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What Is the Statute of Limitations in Wisconsin Domestic Violence Cases?


Domestic violence charges can cover a wide range of situations where an individual’s behavior could be considered criminal acts. Sometimes, the material facts in these cases are strong and compelling, while other cases can be filed based on frivolous or weak evidence that could easily cast reasonable doubt.

Among those situations where reasonable doubt is present is when claims are brought forth after a long period of time, which happens in some domestic violence cases. Many cases involve testimony from a victim or witness to the accused act, and memories can fade or even be embellished after a period of time has lapsed.

These are also cases that could be questionable even when a prosecutor wants to go forward with pressing charges, and a statute of limitations violation could result in a case dismissal with aggressive legal representation.


Many domestic violence cases are filed based on minimal documentation and information when the evidence is relatively recent. While all domestic violence cases are treated seriously by the court, many cases will only be prosecuted within three years of the occurrence.

Cases with extenuating circumstances such as fear of reporting the abuse could be determined by the court as exceptional cases that still need criminal evaluation, so the timeline regarding the beginning of the limitations "clock" can be an issue that extends the acceptable filing period.


Felony charges always involve egregious behavior on some level, including the number of occurrences over a period of time, and prosecutors have up to six years to file a charge. The legal questions in felony domestic violence charges are the number of charges, the extent of abuse, and the reliability of the evidence.

In addition, other charges can also be filed when specific evidence indicates more than mere domestic abuse has happened, such as sexual abuse evidence. These cases still have the same potential for reasonable doubt when filed long after the fact, but the statute of limitations is doubled.

Are There Any Exceptions?

There are cases where acceptable time periods are immaterial and cases are "tolled" for reasonable application of the law, especially regarding availability of DNA evidence. There are few legal issues where this applies as it does in domestic violence cases, and evidence must be strong for a case to be considered outside of the limitations standards.

Cases that involve minor children at the time of the act can be extended until the victim is up to 26 years of age when evidence indicates the victim was restricted or pressured into not making the claim within the statute of limitations time frame.

Contact an Experienced Wisconsin Criminal Defense Attorney

Never go to court regarding a domestic violence issue without solid legal counsel. Call Jason D. Baltz of Milwaukee for comprehensive detailed legal defense.

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