North Carolina Domestic Violence Laws

In North Carolina victims of domestic violence are protected by both civil and criminal laws. Domestic violence can be physical, emotional or sexual or financial. Certain types of harassment or emotional abuse can happen through all types of communication, including written, telephone, fax, e-mail, or voicemail.

Civil Laws

  • A person commits domestic violence by doing one or more of the following acts against a person with whom the offender shares or shared a personal relationship, or against the minor child of such a person:
  • Attempting to or intentionally causing bodily injury;
  • Placing someone or a member of someone’s family or household in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
  • Committing a sexual offenses such as rape;
  • Placing someone in fear of continued harassment that is so bad it inflicts substantial emotional distress on the victim;
  • Conduct that torments, terrorizes, or terrifies a person.

Victims of domestic violence can apply for a Domestic Violence Protective Order, which is a civil court order signed by a judge that offers protection to victims.

Criminal Laws

Most criminal domestic violence cases in North Carolina are prosecuted through general criminal statutes, not specific domestic violence laws. Any crime can be an act of domestic violence if perpetrated in a domestic violence context.

If a judge determines a "personal relationship" exists between the persons involved, he or she can impose special terms of probation such as requiring the defendant to undergo medical or psychiatric treatment and remain in a specified institution if necessary for such treatment, attend or reside in a facility that provides rehabilitation, counseling, treatment, training, or residence for people on probation, successfully complete a Drug Treatment Court Program, abstain from consuming alcohol and submit to continuous alcohol monitoring, and require the defendant to remain at home except for specified purposes, such as employment or school.

What Protections Are Available In Addition to Criminal Prosecution?

There are several remedies and legal protections available for victims of domestic violence in North Carolina. These may include:

  • Address Confidentiality Program: Victims can conceal their address from abusers;
  • Civil lawsuit: The victim may file a civil lawsuit to recover losses and expenses such as medical bills or pain and suffering damages; and
  • Custody/child or spousal support orders: These may be modified to prevent any further incidence of violence between spouses, children, or other persons.

The following table highlights the main provisions of the North Carolina's Domestic Violence Laws. See Stalking and Filing a Domestic Violence Lawsuit for more information.

Code Sections NCGS § 50B-1 et. seq.
What Protections are Available?

Civil and Criminal

What is Prohibited?

•Attempting to or intentionally causing bodily injury;
•Placing someone or a member of someone’s family or household in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
•Committing a sexual offenses such as rape;
•Placing someone in fear of continued harassment that is so bad it inflicts substantial emotional distress on the victim; and
•Conduct that torments, terrorizes, or terrifies a person.

Personal Relationship Requirement
  • A current or former spouse;
  • A person of the opposite sex who has lived with you or is living with you;
  • Persons who are related as parents and children or as grandparents and grandchildren (You may not, however, obtain an order for protection against a child or grandchild under the age of 16.);
  • A person who is the parent of your child;
  • A current or former household member; and
  • A person you are dating or have dated.
  • Children are also protected from domestic violence from their parents, or live-in partners of their parents, or any individual who is acting as their parent
Common Misdemeanor DV Crimes • Assault on a FemaleCommunicating Threats
• Assault by Pointing a Gun
• Domestic Criminal Trespass
• Harassing Phone Calls
• Injury to Pregnant Woman
• Injury to Personal Property
• Assault Inflicting Serious Injury
• Assault with a Deadly Weapon
• Stalking (Can be a felony in some situations)
• Interference with Emergency Communication
• Violation of a Protective Order (Can be a felony in some situations)
• Assault in the Presence of a Child
• Sexual Battery
Common Felony DV Crimes

• Rape
• Sexual Offenses
• Non-fatal Strangulation

Penalties

*Factors such as prior offenses or history of domestic violence help determine the severity of the punishment. Sentence may also include a restraining or protective order.*

Misdemeanors: Up to 150 Days in Jail, Anger Management classes, Community Service, Fines, and Restitution to the victim(s).
Felony: See Felony Sentencing Grid

Types of Protective Orders Available DVPO

Resources

Because domestic laws can sometimes get complicated, it may also be a good idea to consult an experienced North Carolina domestic violence lawyer if you have questions about your specific situation.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.