North Carolina Temporary Restraining Order Laws

Note: Any person in a dangerous and/or emergency situation requiring immediate intervention should call 911 for assistance.

Victims of domestic violence can apply for a civil restraining order to seek relief from an abuser.

In North Carolina, an abused person can seek a temporary civil restraining order as part of a family law case. Here, you are not asking the court to send the abuser to jail for committing a crime. However, if the abuser violates the civil court order, he or she may be sent to jail for the violation.

You can also request an order in a civil case. Here, you are the person bringing the case against the abuser and (in most circumstances), you have the right to withdraw (drop) the case if you want to.

Domestic Relationship DVPO

In North Carolina, it's known as a Domestic Violence Protective Order or (DVPO). Its a civil order that provides protection from harm by a family member, household member, someone you have a child in common with, or someone you have dated or are dating.

Both male and female victims can apply. This order prohibits the offender from having contact with the victim for a specified period of time. If a person is found to violate a restraining or protective order, he or she could he or she can be jailed and charged with a separate crime including aggravated stalking.

How to Obtain a DVPO

Victims can get paperwork from the clerk's office or from a domestic violence program where someone can assist them with completing the paperwork. There isn't a filing fee for the protective order.

The following table highlights the main provisions of the North Carolina's temporary restraining order laws. See Family Law ,Harassment, and Filing a Domestic Violence Lawsuit for more information.

Types of Orders

Civil Restraining Order known as a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO)

Relationship Requirement

You may be eligible to file a domestic relationship DVPO against:

  • Current or former spouses
  • Persons of opposite sex who live together or have lived together
  • Persons related as parents and children or grandparents and grandchildren
  • Persons who have a child in common
  • Current or former household members (includes same-sex relationships if parties live or have
    lived together)
  • Persons of opposite sex who are in a dating relationship.
What Can a DVPO Do?
  • Direct batterer to refrain from threatening, abusing, following, harassing, or otherwise
    interfering with the victim
  • Grant victim possession of the residence and exclude the batterer
  • Order eviction of batterer from residence and assist victim in returning to it
  • Temporary custody of minor children and establishment of visitation rights
  • Order spousal support and/or child support
  • Provide for possession of personal property
  • Prohibit batterer from purchasing a firearm
  • Order completion of abuser treatment program
  • Any additional prohibitions or requirements deemed necessary to protect victim
Length of a DVPO

Up to 1 year and can be renewed multiple times for "good cause"

How to Apply

File a petition at the clerk's office

Penalty for Violations
  • Class A1 misdemeanor, Up to 60 days in jail if the defendant has no prior convictions;
  • Felony if the defendant commits a crime while subject to a protective order;
  • If the defendant has two prior convictions for violating or a protective order, or if the defendant violates a stay away provision while possessing a deadly weapon, the new violation is punished as a Class H felony, which carries a presumptive sentence range of five to six months in prison for persons with no prior criminal convictions.

Resources

Because temporary restraining order laws can sometimes get complicated, it may also be a good idea to consult an experienced North Carolina domestic violence or family law attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.