Domestic violence continues to be a substantial issue in North Carolina. To help fight this issue, the Governor of North Carolina signs Bill S493 into law in July of 2019, taking effect in December 2019. This bill makes several changes to the domestic violence laws in the state that are important to know about.
If you are arrested for domestic violence in North Carolina, here’s what you need to know about this new law and the batterer intervention program that is now a part of it.
Domestic Violence Laws in North Carolina: Batterer Treatment
For those who receive a Domestic Violence Protective Order against them, the completion of a treatment program called a batterer treatment program is required.
Previously, a victim had to make sure a defendant completed this requirement, but the new law says that is no longer the case. Lawmakers realized it was unfair to put victims of domestic violence in the position to ensure the defendant adhered to the law.
Now, when the judge orders a Domestic Violence Protective Order, they will also schedule a hearing so they can check to make sure the treatment program has been met.
What is a Batterer Intervention Program?
When a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) is granted against someone, they are required to complete a batterers’ intervention program. This is a class an offender must complete within a specified amount of time, usually at least 26 weeks in length.
Many people assume this is something akin to anger management, but it’s much more than that. It does contain elements of anger management, but the goal of a batterer intervention program is to stop domestic violence by focusing on:
- What causes domestic violence to occur
- Changes that have to take place in order to stop domestic violence from occurring again
- The impact abuse can have on the victim
- Understanding the many forms abuse and domestic violence can take
- Helping the batterer to take accountability for their abusive behavior and choices
The program is a combination of counseling and education. It often consists of a combination of group discussions, classes, lectures, and one-on-one counseling sessions. It also has strict attendance requirements.
In order to complete the program successfully to satisfy the judge, the defendant can only miss classes if they have good cause and only three classes in the 26-week period can be missed. Absences must also be made up and a fourth absence will result in termination from the program.
The defendant must also pay the costs of the program out of their own pocket. It is not covered by insurance since it’s not considered a mental health diagnosis.
The batterer intervention programs offered in North Carolina are state-approved programs, so best practices and techniques are observed in the program to help the batterer begin to change their behavior.
The Benefits of Successful Completion
The benefit of completing a batterer intervention program is that, as a part of the court’s requirement for the DVPO, it satisfies the court. Failing to complete the program can result in serious penalties.
Completing the program, since DVPOs are considered a civil offense, will not result in a criminal record – but failing to complete the program may result in misdemeanor penalties that can include jail time.
Domestic Violence Protective Orders are taken seriously in North Carolina. Violating it and failing to meet the requirements can result in serious legal consequences.