Restraining orders can have a significant impact on your life. The conditions of North Carolina restraining orders may dictate where you can go, who you can talk to, or even whether or not you get custody of your children. People who receive restraining orders may also have to pay fines or restitution to victims.
Do not let a restraining order control your day-to-day life. Understand what actions may lead to the instatement of a restraining order in North Carolina and how you can fight accusations and penalties in court. If you have recently been charged with crimes and you are afraid that you will receive a restraining order, reach out to an experienced NC defense lawyer immediately.
What Actions Can Lead to a North Carolina Restraining Order?
North Carolina defines stalking as two or more acts where “the defendant willfully…harasses another person without legal purpose or willfully engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person without legal purpose.”
The defendant should reasonably know that their actions could cause fear or emotional distress. This definition is broad and covers incidents that could happen in person, over text messages, or through other forms of communication.
Stalking is a Class A1 misdemeanor in the state of North Carolina. In addition to pressing criminal charges, victims can ask for restraining orders that prohibit the alleged stalker from contacting or being within a certain vicinity of the victim. A second or subsequent stalking conviction makes this crime a felony.
Abuse or Threats of Abuse
Physical violence or abuse is certainly grounds for asking for a restraining order, but what you might not know is that abusers do not have to lay a hand on victims in order to be granted a restraining order. Threats of abuse, including intimidation or actions that arouse fear, may also be considered when someone is trying to get a restraining order.
Any type of sexual offences, including rape and molestation, may be grounds to ask for a restraining order.
Sex crimes are taken very seriously in the state of North Carolina. In addition to a restraining order and jail time, defendants who are convicted of sex crimes may also be put on the state’s Sex Offender Registry.
There is a specific type of restraining order given to sex offenders. Victims may get a Civil No-Contact Order for Victims of Registered Sex Offenders. These protection orders can last for the entirety of the abuser’s lifetime. (Other restraining orders may be put in place for a single year with the possibility to extend the duration of the order.)
You Do Not Have to Be a Family Member or Significant Other to Receive a Restraining Order in North Carolina
Restraining orders are most commonly associated with domestic violence, but you do not have to be involved in a domestic relationship to receive a restraining order.
North Carolina gives out two types of restraining orders: Domestic Violence Protection Orders and Civil No-Contact Orders. (The terms “protection order” and “restraining order” are often used interchangeably.) The latter is given to a person who has attempted unlawful sexual conduct or stalking against a victim with whom they do not have an intimate or domestic relationship. Victims may also ask for these orders without pressing criminal charges.
Terms of the restraining order may include (but are not limited to):
- Prohibition of seeing or contacting victim
- Eviction from household
- Removal of firearm rights
- Temporary or limited child custody
- Mandatory counseling
- Pay restitution, court costs, attorney’s fees, etc.
If you receive a restraining order with or without criminal charges, you may still be charged with a crime for violating that order. Violating a protection order in North Carolina is a class A1 misdemeanor. Violating a civil no-contact order can result in contempt of court charges, which can lead to jail time and fees.
Do not mess around with the terms of a restraining order.
What to Do If You Are Served with a North Carolina Restraining Order
Law enforcement officials in North Carolina must alert alleged abusers if they are served with a restraining order. You may have to attend a hearing in order to fight the case or the terms of the order. The more terms that are included in the order, the more you will have to pay, and the bigger risk of incarceration you will face.
Learn as much as you can about your specific charges and the terms of your restraining order so you can fight back. There are defense strategies available for accused stalkers and abusers, and it is possible for defendants to reduce their sentence or have their charges dropped due to an aggressive and effective defense.