In cases involving accusations of domestic violence, harassment, or stalking, the alleged victim may seek to have a restraining order or protective order placed against the accused. If you are accused of domestic violence against a current or ex spouse, romantic partner, or family member and are worried you may be served a protection or restraining order or have been accused of a restraining order violation, schedule a free consultation with our Raleigh criminal defense attorneys.
At Sandman, Finn, and Fitzhugh, we bring 50 years of combined legal experience involving a wide variety of criminal cases, including domestic violence and restraining order violation. With experience in both defense and prosecution, we bring insight and perspective to our defense strategies that other lawyers simply don’t have, in addition to a passion for providing the best possible representation for our clients.
Understanding Protective and Restraining Orders
A restraining order is an order issued by a judge to keep someone from taking a type of action. There are two main types of restraining orders – a 50B and a 50C.
50B Restraining Order
A 50B is issued when there has been an act of domestic violence committed between parties in a personal relationship, meaning a relationship where the parties are:
- Current or former spouses
- Have a child in common
- Have lived or are living together
- In a relationship, such as dating
- Related, such as parents and children or grandparents and grandchildren.
50C Restraining Order
In a 50C action, the parties are not involved in a personal relationship, but unlawful conduct has occurred. The unlawful conduct required for a 50C is either a single incident of nonconsensual sexual conduct or stalking. Stalking is when a person, on more than one occasion, follows or harasses the victim with the intention of causing fear for the person’s safety or the safety of their immediate family or close personal associates. The actions must also cause the victim to suffer substantial emotional distress by placing that person in fear of death, bodily injury, or continued harassment.
In cases of domestic abuse or domestic violence, a 50B restraining order, also called a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) can stop the accused from contacting the alleged victim, living near them, or purchasing a firearm.
A DVPO can only be filed against a person with whom the victim had a personal relationship – this could include spouses, both current and ex, parents and children, siblings, and even roommates. It is typically in place for one year, after which it can be renewed.
Provisions in a Protection Order
A DVPO can stipulate the following:
- Requiring the person named in the order not contact the alleged victim in any way.
- Creating “civil contact” meaning the only communication can be regarding mutual children or property.
- Losing custody or having visitation rights rescinded.
- Requiring the person named in the order leave the home.
- Completing a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program
- Attending counseling.
- Losing the right to purchase or own a firearm.
Challenging a Restraining Order
A restraining order begins when the victim files an ex-parte motion. A motion is ex-parte when the Judge is only hearing from one party and therefore only one side of the story. If the Judge believes that domestic violence, stalking or nonconsensual sexual conduct has occurred then an emergency 10 day restraining order is issued.
The time to act is now, and having a defense attorney represent you when you have a false restraining order filed against you can be beneficial in having it removed. Our team of attorneys can file responses and show evidence on your behalf showing no harassment or threat has taken place. However, in the meantime from being served until your hearing, it’s essential you follow the temporary restraining order to avoid additional legal trouble and possible jail time.
Restraining Order Violation Penalties
Restraining orders and DVPOs are taken very seriously in North Carolina, and that’s why, if you are unable to have it removed, you must follow it very closely. Don’t call to check on the person if there’s a no-contact clause in the order.
If you are charged with knowingly violating a DVPO, a conviction is a Class A1 misdemeanor and can lead to 150 days in jail and a large fine.
Contact Our Raleigh Restraining Order Defense Attorneys
Whether you’ve been accused of domestic abuse and threatened with a restraining order or you have been accused of violating an existing order, you need a qualified, experienced criminal defense attorney to help you. Schedule a free consultation today by filling out our contact form or calling us at (919) 887-8040.