A domestic violence conviction can have serious criminal consequences, such as lengthy prison sentences, hefty fines, and a criminal record that can compromise future housing and employment prospects.
However, a domestic violence conviction can also have life-changing civil consequences, restricting your freedom, ability to see your family, and right to continue living in your home. In fact, across the board, the penalties for domestic violence are more serious in North Carolina than in many other states.
Let’s look at a few of these in detail.
Bottom line: If you are facing domestic violence charges, you face not only criminal consequences, but also long-lasting civil restrictions that may be life-changing.
North Carolina law forbids domestic violence offenders from obtaining or maintaining a concealed carry permit, even for first-time, misdemeanor-level offenders. This means that you cannot conceal firearms, and must either open carry guns such that they are clearly visible, or carry firearms in locked cases.
Moreover, ours is one of only seven states that require judges to force abusers to surrender any firearms in their possession if there are allegations of violence or violent threats. In most states the judge has the option to order firearm surrender, but in North Carolina this is mandatory.
Importantly, a criminal conviction is not necessary for required firearm surrender. You can be forced to surrender your guns if you are subject to a restraining order of any kind.
In addition to the above restrictions, you may also be temporarily prohibited from buying firearms for a specified time periods.
The one protection you do receive? Our state does specifically prohibit firearm surrender in cases that do not involve imminent threats of violence.
In addition to prison sentences and hefty fines, judges may also impose special probation terms depending on the circumstances of your case.
These can include:
- Required medical or psychiatric treatment, including remaining in a specified institution if necessary.
- Attending or residing in a facility that provides rehabilitation, counseling, treatment, training or residence for persons on probation.
- Successful completion of a Drug Treatment Court program.
- Court-ordered abstinence from alcohol consumption and continuous alcohol monitoring.
- Requirement for the defendant to remain at home except for certain purposes such as employment, rehabilitation, or school.
Importantly, you will be financially responsible for any required treatment programs. Inpatient programs in particular are very expensive, often charging several thousand dollars per day if you are uninsured.
Residence Possession and/or Occupancy
The victims of domestic violence may be allowed to remain in possession and/or occupancy of a shared residence, forcing the defendant to vacate the premises in order to abide by the protective order. If you own your home, you can even be required to revoke home ownership. You may also be required to assist the alleged victim in returning to the residence, paying expenses such as movers’ fees.
If you are allowed to remain in the residence, you may be required to provide suitable housing for the alleged victim and any children.
Child Custody and Visitation
Depending on the circumstances of the alleged offense, you may be prohibited from seeing your children for a period of time, and potentially permanently. Generally, permanent restrictions are reserved for situations where the alleged abuser has harmed the children as well as the romantic partner.
Possession of Personal Property
Possession of certain personal property may be awarded to the alleged victim. For example, if you have several children together, your partner will likely be awarded possession of the family car used to take the children places.
Both parties generally retain legal representation in domestic violence cases, meaning that both parties will incur attorney’s fees. However, in many cases, as the defendant you will be required to pay the attorney’s fees for the alleged victim.
Domestic Violence Treatment Programs
You will likely be required to participate in some form of domestic violence treatment program. This can include counseling, community service, classes, and restitution. These programs are very time-consuming, so can be problematic for employment. You will also be financially responsible for any treatment programs, which could range from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
If You are Facing Domestic Violence Charges
At the law firm of Schlosser and Pritchett, we contend that domestic violence should never be tolerated, but neither should false or exaggerated claims of domestic violence intended to gain legal leverage. Moreover, everyone should have access to the strongest possible defense and the ability to fight for their rights and freedom.
If you are facing domestic violence charges, you must act quickly. Give yourself the best chance at a positive outcome by working with an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney. Get in touch with us today.