A North Carolina girl, pregnant at 15, never expected to be put in this situation. In her small conservative town, she felt the community pressuring her to marry the 17-year-old father and take the responsibility for getting pregnant to “make it right.”
Now 40 years old, court documents show that she had endured years of abuse, just like numerous other teenagers in North Carolina today. She is still trying to escape the torment of her child’s father, while also working to advocate for victims of domestic violence.
North Carolina is aiming to reduce the number of child marriages that turn into relationships darkened by domestic violence by raising the minimum age of marriage from 14 to 16. Still, domestic violence plagues marriages involving a female minor.
In this post, we will discuss the law behind domestic violence and how you can take steps against an aggressor.
Domestic Violence in North Carolina: Definitions and Sentencing
North Carolina defines domestic violence as a violent act committed between people sharing a personal relationship. A personal relationship is defined as two people who are:
- Current or former spouses
- Persons of the opposite sex living together or have previously lived together
- Related as parent and child, including figures acting as a parent to a minor child
- Parents of the same child
- Current or former household members
- Person of the opposite sex who are in or were in a dating relationship
A violent act in the scope of domestic violence is defined as an action:
- Intentionally causing or attempting to cause bodily injury
- Putting the victim or a member of the victim’s family in fear of imminent bodily injury or continued harassment that causes substantial emotional distress
- Committing any sex-related crime
The sentencing for domestic violence is the same as it would be if no personal relationship was established. If, however, there is a personal relationship between the victim and the perpetrator, the law provides the judge the ability to impose special conditions or terms of probation. These special orders include:
- An indication on the defendant’s criminal record showing a crime involving domestic violence
- Requiring the defendant to undergo medical or psychiatric treatment
- Attending or remaining in a facility that provides counseling, treatment, or rehabilitation
- Abstaining from alcohol and submitting to alcohol monitoring
- Requiring the defendant to stay at home except for employment or school
Petitioning for a Protective Order
North Carolina law also describes a path through which a victim of domestic violence can file an application for a court-issued protective order.
A protective order can be petitioned by a person who fears being the victim of domestic violence, is a victim of domestic violence, or believes that a minor child may become the victim of serious or immediate injury.
If you file a petition for a protective order, the judge can issue an ex parte protective order if the allegations demonstrate that you or a minor child are in danger of domestic violence. Ex parte means that the court issues an emergency protective order before notifying the defendant.
After conducting a hearing with both you and the defendant, the court will issue a protective order if it finds that an act of domestic violence was committed. The order may include directives that:
- Grant one of the parties possession of the home
- Require a party to provide suitable alternate housing to the party’s spouse and children
- Award temporary child custody and visitation rights
- Require either party to make child support payments
- Prohibit a party from committing further abuse through any medium to any member residing in the other party’s household
Protective orders can remain in place for up to one year, but the petitioner can ask the court to extend the order for two years.