Domestic violence is a crime taken very seriously by the state of North Carolina. The penalties for those found guilty of domestic violence crimes can be quite severe, so it’s important to understand what domestic violence is, how it’s perpetrated and prosecuted, and what can be faced if you are found guilty of it.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about domestic violence in North Carolina to help you gain a deeper understanding of this crime.
Domestic Violence: What Is It?
Domestic violence is defined under North Carolina law as an action that results in the physical injury or death of a household or family member. The types of crimes often associated with domestic violence include:
- Sexual assault
- Sexual battery
- Aggravated battery
- Aggravated stalking
- False imprisonment
However, any type of action that results in the injury or death of someone identified in a domestic situation can be considered domestic violence.
Who Counts as a Household or Family Member?
This is an important aspect to understand since it is the crux of every domestic violence case in North Carolina. When you perpetrate a crime against someone who is considered a household or family member, then you are perpetrating domestic violence.
Personal relationships are defined under the law as:
- Current spouses
- Former spouses
- Anyone with whom you share a home or have in the past
- Anyone you are related to by marriage or by blood
- Anyone with whom you raise a child
- Anyone you have previously or are currently dating
You commit domestic violence when you injure or put someone in fear of their safety or life that fits into one of the above groups. Sex crimes are also included.
How Is Domestic Violence Sentenced?
Criminal statutes in the state apply to someone whether the act is perpetrated against a household or family member — or not. However, when a household or family member is involved, it rises to the level of domestic violence At that point, the judge can impose special sentencing and conditions on the person convicted of the crime.
You may be required by the court to undergo psychiatric treatment if they feel it’s necessary. You might also be compelled to attend rehabilitation, treatment, or counseling. Often people are required to complete a Drug Treatment Court Program and abstain from using substances like alcohol.
What Is a Protective Order?
A person who has been the victim of domestic violence can also ask the court for a protective order. This is an order that is meant to help prevent future acts of domestic violence by demanding that the person accused stay away from the victim.
Protective orders can come with many different conditions and requirements:
- To move from your residence if you reside with the victim
- Not to have any contact with the victim or any shared children
- To pay child or spousal support
These are a few, among other provisions. These protective orders remain valid for a period of up to one year, but they can be renewed for two more years after that.
What Happens If a Protective Order is Violated?
If a protective order is violated, it is a misdemeanor crime all by itself. That means you can get slammed with an additional charge and penalty for it, which can include up to two months in prison if it’s your first offense.
If you commit a felony while under a protective order, then the felony you commit is subject to a class one level higher than normal because of it.