How Long Does a Restraining Order Last in North Carolina?
If you’re considering getting a restraining order, you need to know how they work and how long you may find protection. A restraining order can be a powerful legal tool to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from someone threatening or harming you. Let’s look at how long a restraining order lasts and how it may protect you and any children involved in the situation.
How Long Does a Restraining Order Last?
In North Carolina, restraining orders last for a specified period of time, decided by a judge. An initial “permanent” Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) can last up to one year. And you may renew it for up to two years at a time. (1) There is no limit to the number of times you can renew a protective order.
A protective order is active as soon as law enforcement serves it on the individual. If the abusive person violates the terms of the restraining order, they can be arrested and charged with a crime.
How Can a Restraining Order Help Me?
According to the NCCADV, “Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse.”
If you’re living with violence, it will not get better because an abusive person apologizes or says they will not let it happen again.
In North Carolina, many domestic violence prevention groups, such as the NCCADV, can help answer questions about how to get a restraining order. However they don’t have attorneys who can directly represent you.
Consulting with an experienced domestic violence attorney can help you successfully represent the truth of your situation in the courtroom. When you file a protective restraining order, a judge calls a hearing where both you and the abusive individual may plead your case.
Taking action by talking with those who’ve seen domestic violence and worked with the survivors is your best course of action. Consulting with experienced domestic violence counselors and attorneys can give you the insight you need to face your situation and find safety.
Who Can File a Restraining Order?
A Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO), also commonly called a 50B or a restraining order, protects you from an abusive individual you have a personal relationship with, such as a:
- Spouse or ex-spouse or someone you have a child with
- Someone who currently or previously lived with you or in the same household as you
- Person you’re in a dating relationship with, including same-sex relationships
- Parent, child, grandparent, or grandchild
Regardless of citizenship or immigration status, anyone living in North Carolina can file for a DVPO. And, if the abusive individual violates this order, law enforcement can arrest them immediately!
What Is a Restraining Order? How Does It Work?
If you obtain a DVPO, the court gives you safeguards as a victim of domestic violence. The court may also grant you immediate protection if you’re facing an emergency.
Consider these protections a DVPO may include:
- Giving you possession of the household and excluding the abusive partner
- Awarding you temporary custody and establishing temporary child visitation rights
- Ordering eviction of the abusive partner from home and assistance for you to return home
- Giving you possession of personal property, including a pet
- Forcing an abusive individual to surrender their “firearms, ammunition, and gun permits” to the sheriff and prohibiting them from purchasing firearms for a specified time
- Ordering additional requirements necessary to protect any party or minor child
- Ordering sheriff to deliver protective order to school principals named in the order
- Ordering the abusive partner to attend and complete an abuser treatment program approved by the Domestic Violence Commission
A protective order can also order the abusive partner to refrain from doing any or all of the following:
- Contacting you directly or indirectly, including through third parties
- Threatening, abusing, or following you
- Harassing you by phone or by visiting your home or workplace, or by other means
- Treating a household pet cruelly
- Interfering with you in different ways (2)
Is It Illegal to Violate a Restraining Order?
The penalties for violating a protective order in North Carolina are severe. For a first-time offense, the perpetrator can receive a Class A1 misdemeanor punishable by up to five months in jail. Some violations may even bring felony charges!
A restraining order can provide much-needed protection and peace of mind. However, it is not a cure-all. You should also consider what other steps you may want to take to increase your sense of safety.
A DVPO is a powerful way to work within legal limits to protect yourself and your family. However, meeting with legal counsel to determine your best course of action going forward makes sense.
We Can Help
At Scharff Law, our domestic violence legal team will work tirelessly to help you find protection under the full extent of the law. We understand how to help you get the needed evidence and best present your case in court. Protecting your safety is our top priority.
Attorney Amily McCool of Scharff Law has worked with survivors of domestic violence for over 20 years. If you or a loved one needs assistance, please get in touch with us online or call us at (919) 457-1954 for a confidential consultation to discuss your options. We can help you take the next step to find safety and hope.