Domestic violence affects people in every state, race, social class, and profession. The North Carolina statutes define domestic violence as the commission of one or more of the followings acts against another person whom you have had a personal relationship with:
1. Attempting to cause bodily injury to a party, or
2. Placing the aggrieved party, or a member of the aggrieved party’s family, in fear of imminent harm or harassment.
If you are in danger, call the police immediately. If you are in an abusive relationship, there are many ways to get help. The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (nccadv.org) has many great resources to help you get away from your abuser and keep you safe including a hotline — 1-800- 799-SAFE (7233).
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), approximately 10 million men and women are physically or mentally abused by their partner in a single year. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been abused by their partner.
Domestic violence can affect an individual’s health and economic status. NCADV has found that between 21% and 60% of domestic violence victims lose their jobs for reasons stemming from domestic violence. This has resulted in a loss of up to 8 million days of paid work annually, which is roughly equal to $8.3 billion in lost wages and revenue.
One of the best legal options is to get a Domestic Violence Protective Order.
What is a Domestic Violence Protective Order?
A Domestic Violence Protective Order in North Carolina is often referred to as a 50B order. If the Court finds that an individual has been the victim of domestic violence or is in danger, the court can sign a 50B requiring the defendant to stop harassing, abusing, following, or contacting the victim. A 50B can also protect the victim’s pets from further abuse by the defendant. If the victim and the defendant live together, the court may instruct the defendant to vacate the residence, and the court can also make temporary child custody decisions.
How Do I Get a Protective Order?
In order to file for a 50B in Forsyth County, go to the 7th floor of the Forsyth County Hall of Justice to Safe on Seven. The staff of Safe on Seven will assist you in filling out the petition for a 50B. Be prepared to describe the abuse in detail. On this petition, you can also ask for temporary custody of any children and temporary possession of a shared residence. If you believe you are in continued danger, you may ask the court for an ex parte Order to be signed before a full hearing. This ex parte order may be granted immediately and will last until a full hearing can be had. Your petition and any ex parte order will be served upon the defendant by the Sheriff’s Department along with notice for a court date for a hearing.
At this hearing you will tell the judge about the abusive situation. Make sure that you bring any relevant pictures, documents, or witnesses of the abuse. Even if the defendant does not attend the hearing, the court can still grant the 50B. However, if you fail to appear at this hearing, the petition will likely be dismissed. If the court grants the 50B, it will last for one year.
What Happen if the Defendant Violates the Protective Order?
If the defendant violates the 50B in any way, he can be charged with a crime, possibly resulting in jail time. Please note that you as the victim cannot give the defendant permission to violate the 50B – it is an order from the court. Any contact with your consent during a period that the 50B is in effect is still a violation and could result in criminal charges.
What Happens If I Change My Mind?
If you have obtained a 50B and decide that you no longer want it to be in effect, you can file a motion to have it lifted. At the hearing for this motion, you must show the court that
1. You want the 50B lifted
2. You do not anticipate violence from the defendant
3. You want to resume contact, or
4. The circumstances have changed.
Contact the attorneys at Surratt & Thompson, PLLC to help you obtain a 50B so you don’t have to go through this process alone.