A restraining order, or protective order, is a legal order issued by a state court, which requires a person to stop harming another. In the state of North Carolina, courts can issue domestic violence protective orders and civil no-contact orders. The legal system is divided by civil law and criminal law. Domestic violence cases may be both civil and criminal. Pursuing both civil and criminal actions may result in maximum protection.
For civil law cases, the person bringing the case against the abuser is the abused party and s/he has the right to drop the case at any time. Civil cases protect a person from abuse, but does not send the abuser to jail for a crime. If the abuser violates the civil court order, s/he may face jailtime. In criminal law, a criminal act, such as harrassment, assault, murder and/or theft has taken place. A prosecutor brings the case to court.
A Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) is a court order that provides protection from someone you have/had a personal relationship with. There are two types of DVPOs: Ex parte/temporary and Final. Ex parte/temporary protective orders provide immediate protection without the abuser present. A Final DVPO is issued after a full court hearing. In this hearing, the abuser has a chance to defend him/herself. Final DVPOs last for up to one year. You can file for a protective order in the county where you live or in the county your abuser lives.
Below you will find more information from womenslaw.org on how a DVPO can help you:
- Order the abuser not to assault, threaten, abuse, follow, harass, or interfere with you and your children in person, at work, on the telephone, or by other means;
- Allow you to live in the home where you and the abuser have lived together and order the abuser to move out and not return, no matter who owns the home or is on the lease;
- Order the abuser to provide suitable alternative housing for you;
- Tell the police to remove the abuser from the home and help you to return to the home;
- Give you possession of personal property including a car and household goods, except for the abuser’s personal belongings;
- Order the abuser to stay away from any place you request including your school, your children’s school, your work place, your friends’ homes, or any place where you are seeking shelter;
- Order the abuser not to harm your pet;
- Give you possession of your pet;
- Give you temporary custody of a minor child, order the abuser to pay temporary child support, and establish temporary visitation (custody, child support, and visitation only apply if the abuser is the parent of the child);
- Order your spouse to pay temporary spousal support;
- Order the abuser to hand over any firearms and prohibit the abuser from purchasing a firearm;
- Order the abuser to attend an abuser’s treatment program;
- Order the abuser to pay attorney’s fees; and/or
- Order the abuser to do anything else you ask for and the judge agrees to.*
*NCGS § 50B-3