Freedom Law – North Carolina

What You Need to Know about Domestic Violence Law in NC

If you’re facing domestic violence charges in North Carolina, you should understand the penalties you might face. Having a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) entered against you can have long-term, severe consequences, including adverse effects on any existing or future child custody cases. 

Additionally, based on the outcome of your domestic violence case, you could face jail time, fines and more. We’ve answered some frequently asked questions below to help you better understand DVPOs and domestic violence cases.

How Does a DVPO Work in North Carolina?

Once a DVPO is filed at your local Clerk of Court or magistrate’s office, the person filing speaks with a judge about why the order is necessary. If granted, the DVPO will be served to the defendant soon after and is effective immediately. A hearing is then scheduled within 10 days, during which time a temporary order, called an ex parte, will be in effect. If the DVPO is granted, it’s applicable for 1 year. After a year passes, it can be renewed if the victim believes it’s necessary. 

However, a DVPO can only be filed against someone with whom the victim has a personal relationship. This includes a spouse, ex-spouse or someone they have lived with or dated. A DVPO can also be filed against a parent, grandparent, child or grandchild. To receive a protective order, a person must show that a DVPO is necessary to keep them, and potentially their children, safe from harm. 

What Constitutes a DVPO violation in North Carolina?

Anytime a defendant willingly or purposefully commits an act that violates the DVPO, it’s considered a violation. 

Is a DVPO the Same as a Restraining order in North Carolina?

Yes, a DVPO and a restraining order are the same in North Carolina. 

Can a Victim Give the Defendant Permission to Violate a DVPO?

Although having no or limited contact with the defendant may be challenging for the victim due to their personal relationship, the victim can’t give the defendant permission to violate the DVPO. 

Does a Charge of Domestic Violence Require Physical Contact?

Domestic violence charges can include emotional distress or verbal violence and don’t necessarily require physical contact. However, the charges for physical violence are often more than verbal or emotional violence. 

What Acts Are Included in North Carolina’s Definition of Domestic Violence?

The acts included in North Carolina’s definition of domestic violence include:

  • Physical or sexual assault or battery
  • Domestic criminal trespass
  • Stalking
  • Cyberstalking
  • Verbal threats
  • Harassment
  • Violating an existing DVPO

What is the Longest Jail Time for Violating a DVPO?

Since a DVPO is a civil matter, you won’t automatically receive jail time if one is entered against you. If you’re also charged with criminal offenses, such as assault and battery, you may face jail time. However, once a DVPO is violated, it becomes a criminal charge, and you can be charged with up to 150 days of prison time for violation alone. 

Furthermore, if you commit another act of violence while purposefully violating a DVPO, you could face significantly more time. For example, you could face 40 or more years in federal prison for certain sexual offenses while violating a DVPO.

How Can Having a DVPO Affect Your Custody Case?

A DVPO can be held against you in a custody case, making it less likely you’ll receive custody, parenting time or decision-making authority.

Get Help With Domestic Violence Charges Today

If you’re facing domestic violence charges and a potential DVPO, you shouldn’t face it alone. Contact us today to tell us about your case and learn more about how we can help. 

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