Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by a partner to gain control over the other intimate partner. The definition includes many types of abuse, such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse, psychological abuse, threats, stalking, and cyberstalking. While many cases of domestic violence involve the abuse of a female by a male spouse, spouses aren’t the only victims of domestic violence. Victims can be dating partners, children, family members, and cohabitants.
Domestic Violence Laws in North Carolina
While North Carolina defines “domestic violence” in its General Statutes, the state does not have a specific domestic violence criminal offense in its laws. For this reason, most domestic violence cases are prosecuted through general criminal statutes. That means that any crime can be an act of domestic violence if it is done in the context of domestic violence. North Carolina law prohibits the following:
- Attempting to cause or causing bodily injury
- Placing the aggrieved party or a member of their family or household in fear of imminent physical harm or harassment
- Committing a sexual offense
- Conduct that torments or terrifies a person
- Placing someone in fear of continued harassment, such that the victim experiences substantial emotional distress
If you’ve been accused of a crime that involves a domestic relationship, the case will be prosecuted through a specialized domestic violence courtroom. This means that, if you’ve been accused of a crime that involves a domestic relationship, it will affect how it’s prosecuted and the resources that can be used against you.
Domestic Violence Charges
Because North Carolina has no specific domestic violence offense in its laws, those found guilty of a domestic violence-related charge will face the consequences associated with that charge. As such, the penalties vary widely and may include but are not limited to:
- Community service
- Loss of driver’s license
- Alcohol and substance abuse counseling
Domestic violence encompasses a variety of forms of abuse and is a destructive crime that carries with it life-altering consequences and damages to every person involved. If you’ve been accused of domestic violence, an experienced domestic violence lawyer will provide more than legal counsel for you. At Dysart Willis, our attorneys believe that everyone has a right to be heard, and we will serve as your advocate.
Domestic Violence Protective Orders
A Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO), sometimes referred to as a “restraining order” or a “50B order,” is a restraining order designed to give victims of domestic violence the protection they need from their abuser. This type of restraining order allows judges to order specific forms of protection for a victim, and the abuser can be charged criminally if the order is violated.
If a DVPO is granted, the judge can order many types of “relief” as part of the DVPO. The most common examples include:
- Ordering the abuser to have no contact with the victim
- Ordering the abuser to refrain from threatening or otherwise interfering with the victim or their minor children
- Granting temporary possession of a residence to the victim and excluding the abuser
- Ordering the eviction of the abuser from a home and assisting the victim in returning to it
- Granting the victim temporary custody of minor children
If the abuser violates a DVPO, the victim has the option of reporting the violation to law enforcement or asking that the judge hold the abuser in civil or criminal contempt of court. Violation of a DVPO is, at a minimum, a Class A1 misdemeanor, the highest level of a misdemeanor in North Carolina, punishable by up to 150 days in jail and as significant of a fine as the court deems appropriate.
Contact Us Today
If you’ve been charged with a domestic violence-related offense, we can help. The criminal defense team at Dysart Willis will begin working on your case immediately. We’ll evaluate the evidence and determine the best course of action, working as your advocate and a listening ear in these often sensitive and emotionally heated cases. To get started, call us at 919-747-8380 or reach out to us online to schedule a consultation.