Domestic violence in North Carolina: What you should know

There are both civil and criminal consequences that could apply to domestic violence situations in North Carolina.

There are both civil and criminal laws that govern acts of domestic violence in North Carolina. Anyone facing such charges should have a solid understanding of what those charges entail. Here, we take a look at how the state defines the act and what the possible consequences are.

What is considered domestic violence?

There are several different types of acts that could be classified as domestic violence in North Carolina. Under the state's civil laws, the act must involve the defendant and a person with whom he or she does have or has had a relationship. It may also include an act committed against a child who is younger than 18 who belongs to the alleged victim.

The acts include the following:

  • Any type of behavior that terrorizes, terrifies or otherwise torments the person
  • Purposely causing bodily injury or attempting to do so
  • Causing someone to fear bodily injury
  • Creating substantial emotional distress through harassment or fear of harassment
  • Committing a sexual offense

Because this is defined under civil law, that means there could be civil consequences involved. We will take a look at those in the next section.

What does it mean to have a restraining order against you?

In civil court, a judge may issue a domestic violence protective order. The order may mandate that the alleged offender move out of a shared home or otherwise prevent the person from contacting the alleged victim through phone calls, visiting work or school, etc. Additionally, the alleged offender may have to provide alternative housing for the person who acquired the order.

What would a criminal conviction mean?

Technically, there are not domestic violence-specific criminal laws in North Carolina. Instead, these crimes are prosecuted under the related criminal statutes. For example, a domestic violence situation involving a physical assault would likely be prosecuted as assault; one that involves rape would be prosecuted under the sex crimes statutes.

Because of this range, the penalties associated with a conviction could vary from misdemeanors to felonies. Possible sentencing could include fines or prison time. If there is a proven personal relationship between the parties involved, a judge could order additional measures such as rehabilitation or anger management classes, as well as issuing restitution to the victim.

Should the defendant be convicted of the act, a judge may consider prior domestic violence incidents when determining sentencing. The judge may also issue a restraining order if there is not one in place already.

These cases are often highly complicated and fraught with emotion. Anyone who has questions about this issue should speak with a criminal law attorney in North Carolina.

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North Carolina vs. M.W.
Charge: Charge: Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon (4 Counts), First Degree Burglary, Conspiracy to Commit Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon
Facing: 12 - 17 years in prison
Result: Dismissed

An incarcerated defendant accused our client of participating in the robbery of a group of youth at a party. We were able to raise doubt as to the credibility of this individual. In the end, the prosecutor dismissed these charges, citing a lack of evidence.