How to Get a Restraining Order
“On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.” (1) If you or someone you love is suffering abuse at the hands of an intimate partner, you need to know how to get a restraining order. This type of order is called a 50B or Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO).
It is not just personal relationships that cause pain and suffering at the hands of an abuser. Acquaintances or people that are unknown to the victim are also guilty of attacks. Almost half of female (46.7%) and male (44.9%) victims of rape in the United States were raped by an acquaintance. (1) Where there is no “personal relationship” as defined by law, you need to file a No-Contact Order or 50C to keep an abuser away from you.
Both of these types of orders involve a court documents process that an attorney can help you navigate.
50C No-Contact Order
If you are a victim of sexual assault or stalking and do not have a relationship qualifying for a DVPO, you can file for a no-contact order or 50C Order. If the defendant violates this order, the judge can hold them in contempt of court or under some circumstances, law enforcement may be able to charge the defendant with felony stalking because you have a 50C Order in place.
For a 50C No-Contact Order, you will have to complete this main form, the Complaint and Motion form, located on this website, or go to your local clerk’s office to ask them for the appropriate forms. Contact an attorney for help with the detailed questions or for representation at any hearings.
50B DVPO (Domestic Violence Protection Order)
Anyone residing in North Carolina, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, can file for a DVPO, also called a Domestic Violence Protection Order or 50B Order. If the defendant 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
- 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
You can find the instructions for filling out a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) here. Go to the clerk’s office in your county to complete and file the forms, or you can use this website to answer questions online and have the forms pre-filled out for you to print and take with you. You can also go to your local domestic violence crisis center for assistance from a non-lawyer advocate if you have questions about the process and forms. You can find your local agency here.
Fill Out the Complaint for a Restraining Order 50B or 50C
To get the restraining order, you will need to show that the defendant:
- Caused or attempted to cause physical injury to you or your child
- Placed you or your child in fear of “imminent serious bodily injury.”
- Continued harassment by committing at least two wrongful acts with no legitimate purpose that caused “substantial emotional distress.”
- Sexual assault.
Speaking with an experienced attorney in these types of cases can help you see if the defendant has acted in the ways listed above. Often, victims of abuse need help in articulating the significant emotional abuse they have experienced from continued harassment, and stalking.
While answering the questions, be sure to write detailed answers with times and dates for what has happened whenever possible. Write about what the defendant did to hurt you and to hurt your children in specific ways with examples. Be truthful even if you feel embarrassed or ashamed. This is your opportunity to move forward in your life. When the case comes on for hearing for a permanent order, you will only be able to talk about what you wrote in your original complaint, so it is important to be thorough from the beginning.
Filing of Complaint
When you finish filling out your complaint, you will file it in your local clerk’s office and then be seen by a judge. The judge will consider whether to grant you an emergency, or “ex parte” restraining order. This is a temporary order that you can have for up to a week since the person you are getting it against is not there to tell their side.
Regardless of whether the judge grants the emergency order, they will give you a date to come back within 10 days to have your case heard. This return hearing is where you can ask that the order be put in place for up to one year.
The sheriff’s office will deliver your complaint and any ex parte/temporary order and notice of hearing to the defendant. The Sheriff’s office can arrest a defendant who breaks a 50B. With a 50C, the defendant is held in contempt of court for violating the order.
Ex Parte Order for a DVPO or 50B
If you are afraid of other acts of domestic violence, ask for an Ex Parte Temporary Restraining Order. The magistrate or judge hears this type of request as soon as possible. If the judge grants it, you get a temporary restraining order that starts immediately. However, the order does not go into effect, meaning that the defendant can’t be held accountable for violating it, until the Sheriff’s office serves the defendant.
Once you file, you will find out when the hearing is. For the best outcome, have an attorney represent you at the return hearing.
These hearings can be highly emotional and traumatic. It may be challenging to speak about what has happened to you or your children without the help of a skilled attorney that you can rely on at every moment to keep you emotionally safe and act as a buffer between the defendant and you.
An attorney can also help you review any evidence you have or might need and collect any witness statements that may be helpful. With your life on the line, an experienced attorney can give you the confidence to move forward with the restraining order and step into your new life.
Keep Moving Forward
You are not the abuser and did not cause the abuse. It is your legal right to get a restraining order to protect yourself and any children. You can reach out to domestic violence crisis agencies or other helpful organizations that can come alongside you as you find your way. You can contact us at Scharff Law Firm to talk about the legal and non-legal options for you to try to keep you and your family safe.
Finding someone supportive to help with the process can make all the difference for you. At Scharff Law, we want to understand what has happened and encourage you to fight for your rights. If you suffer abuse, it may be difficult to understand that this is not your fault. You have the right to end this type of relationship and this abusive behavior toward you and any children. A Domestic Violence Protective Order (50B) or a No-Contact Order (50C) can help you move forward.