Domestic Violence Laws in North Carolina
It is against the law in North Carolina to commit domestic violence. If you are a victim, you have the right to take legal action to protect yourself from abuse. Anytime there is aggressive or controlling behavior within a home, there is potential for domestic violence. Let’s look at the domestic violence laws in North Carolina.
What is Domestic Violence?
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.”
Who Are the Victims?
Statistics show that “1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, etc.” (1)
In the year 2020, there were 61 homicides in North Carolina alone related to domestic violence. These people include children, wives, mothers, husbands, and fathers. If you are in a situation with aggressive or controlling behavior from an intimate partner, find ways to get safe using domestic violence groups’ help.
Many domestic violence prevention groups in North Carolina can help you use the law to your advantage and stay safe. You can also hire an attorney to represent your legal interests as you go forward. You deserve to find safety and wellness for yourself and your children.
Domestic Violence Protective Orders (DVPO)
In North Carolina, there are laws to protect victims of domestic violence. These include the domestic violence protection order, called DVPO for short. This order is also commonly called a 50B or a restraining order.
Anyone residing in North Carolina, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, can file for a DVPO. If the defendant (the abusive partner) violates this order, law enforcement can arrest them on the spot. To file this type of order, you must have a personal relationship including:
- Spouse or ex-spouse
- Currently or previously lived with you or in the same household as you
- A person with whom you have a child
- A person you have had a dating relationship with (Despite the “opposite sex” language on the forms, at Scharff Law, we have had success filing for same-sex relationships)
- A parent, child, grandparent, or grandchild
Ex Parte/Emergency Order
If you are in an emergency, you can also request an ex parte, or emergency order. This order allows the court to grant relief before the defendant is given notice of the request for the order of protection. An ex parte DVPO may require an abusive partner (the defendant) to:
- leave home
- stay away from their own children
- give up possession of a motor vehicle
- surrender their “firearms, ammunition, and gun permits” to the sheriff
If the defendant violates the order to surrender firearms, a court can charge them with various felonies.
A judge only issues an ex parte order when it is clear that you are in immediate danger of domestic violence. (2)
The Power of a Protective Order
If you are a victim of domestic violence and obtain a protective order, the court grants you protections. These protections can include:
- Giving you possession of the household and excluding the abusive partner
- Requiring the abusive partner to provide you (as spouse) and children suitable alternate housing
- Awarding you temporary custody and establishing temporary child visitation rights
- Ordering eviction of the abusive partner from residence and assistance for you to return home
- Ordering abusive partner to support minor children (if required by law)
- Giving you possession of combined personal property, including a pet or a minor child
- Ordering abusive partner to support you as a spouse (if required by law)
- Awarding you attorney fees
- Prohibiting the abusive partner from purchasing a firearm for a specified amount of 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 thru third parties
- Threatening, abusing, or following you
- Harassing you by phone
- Harassing you by visiting your home or workplace or by other means
- Treating a household pet cruelly
- Interfering with you in other ways (2)
Law evolves over time. Domestic violence prevention groups work to create judiciary changes that help those who are in domestic abuse situations. The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence is working in 2021 toward limiting and clarifying which subsequent court orders may supersede a domestic violence protective order.
Right now, North Carolina law G.S. 50B-7 allows court decisions that undermine protections granted in protective orders. Reform would include legal language to prevent decisions in family courts that undermine a protective order.
At Scharff Law, we help victims of domestic violence by involvement in community organizations and legal work with victims of domestic violence. We specialize in protective orders and working with victims and want to walk with you through the judicial system to get the protection you need. If you live in fear or pain due to abuse or controlling behavior, reach out to our Scharff Law domestic violence attorneys to find your way back to the life you deserve.