Hi. I’m Lisa Angel. In this video we will talk about the laws surrounding domestic violence in North Carolina.
First, it is important to understand the difference between civil and criminal process. An act of domestic violence could lead to either civil or criminal court or both. If someone sues for what is commonly referred to as a restraining order, then that is generally civil court. In civil court we use the terms “plaintiff” and “defendant.” The plaintiff can decide to file and the plaintiff can decide to withdraw his or her motion. However, in criminal court the state of North Carolina is charging someone with a crime. The victim is considered a witness and does not technically file or decide whether the charges will be dropped. The state decides how the case will proceed. Often victims are in one or both courtrooms after an incident of domestic violence.
Now let’s talk about domestic violence restraining orders. As I mentioned, they are filed in civil court voluntarily by a plaintiff. The terminology we use can often be confusing for parties, in part because many terms mean the same thing. Restraining order, protective order, 50-B, ex parte, emergency protective order; all are used to describe the same process. These terms refer to orders that you can request from the court if you are in fear for your safety.
In order to file for a restraining order, you need to prove two things. First, you need to prove that you are related to the abuser in one of the following ways: you’re married or used to be married, live together, used to live together, dating in an opposite sex relationship, have a child together, or are related as parent to child. You are one of these relationships, you can file a domestic violence restraining order.
But second, you need to prove that an act of domestic violence has occurred. This includes: causing physical harm, attempting to cause physical harm, or placing someone in fear of eminent serious bodily injury. If you are able to prove these things, then the court will grant a domestic violence restraining order.
The court can then do many things, including: evicting the abuser from the home, regardless of how the home is titled; ordering that the abuser restrain from being near you, your home, your workplace, or any other places that you may request; also, the court can grant temporary child custody and make determinations about temporary support and the transfer of property, like cars or personal property. This order will then last up to a year. It’s intended to be temporary in nature and provide safety for the victim on an immediate basis.
For additional information and for resources, look at the domestic violence section of our website at Rosen.com.