Domestic Violence
The family violence laws that protect spouses from abuse also apply to people who have been in a relationship or who have a familial relationship with one another, including people of opposite sex who are together but are not married, as well as people who have a child in common, whether or not they are together. Children are also protected against abuse from parents, the live-in partners of parents, or individuals who act as parents. In addition to physical domestic violence, threatening to cause injury, if the words cause actual fear, may constitute domestic violence.

In 1995 and 1996, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted laws strengthening existing North Carolina violence laws, primarily the Domestic Violence Act found in the North Carolina General Statutes 50B.

Domestic Violence Protection Orders

North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 50B provides that victims of domestic violence can get an order of protection from the Court. Domestic Violence Restraining Orders ("50B", restraining orders, or DVPO's) are civil orders limiting the contact a person may have with a victim and the statutes provide for two types:

An Ex Parte Domestic Violence Protective Order is a temporary order that is available if there is a danger of serious and immediate injury to a qualifying adult or to a minor child. Such an order may be applied for at the Clerk of Superior Court's office during normal hours and the victim will be required to appear before a judge to explain the need for an order of protection. If a judge finds that there is danger to the victim or a minor child, the judge can issue an emergency ex parte order of protection with any provisions the judge feels is needed to protect the victim or the minor child. Such an order is good for ten days.

If an ex parte order is requested and the judge feels it is not an emergency, a hearing date will be set. This hearing will allow the judge to decide if an order of protection should be issued without the other party being present. If the judge issues an emergency ex parte order, a hearing will still be required in order that the judge may decide whether another order, one lasting for one year, is necessary.

If a victim wishes to ask the judge for the year-long order, he or she will be required to come to court again. Otherwise, the judge will not grant the longer lasting order and the emergency order will expire. Once granted, this order becomes effective in every county of the state. Nevertheless, it is important that the victim keep a copy with them so that law enforcement officers in another county will be able to determine that such an order is in effect.

If the police are called, and if they have probable cause to believe that the person against whom the order is written has violated it, Section 50B-4(b) requires that they take the person into custody. He or she will be brought before a magistrate and a Magistrate's Order for Violation of a 50B obtained. Defendant will then be subject to restrictive conditions of the "48-hour" rule and its bond and conditions of release guidelines will apply.