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Domestic violence as a crime is, unfortunately, common. Those who attempt to defend themselves in domestic violence cases have an uphill battle – a battle that may soon get a little more difficult.

A bill in North Carolina may soon support victims of domestic violence to appear in court virtually. While it is in the early stages of drafting, it could be a big change for cases involving domestic violence, harassment, and sexual abuse. 

Many victims are afraid to confront their abusers in court, so this law could make it easier for them. However, it could also make it even more difficult for someone who feels they’re not guilty of domestic violence to create a good defense.

Here’s what you need to know about domestic violence in North Carolina – what it is, what types of penalties can be faced, and some of the most common defenses for it.

Domestic Violence in North Carolina

In the state of North Carolina, domestic violence is defined as one of a plethora of violent acts committed between people in a personal relationship. A personal relationship is defined under the law as:

  • Those who are former or current spouses
  • Those of the opposite sex who have lived together or currently live together
  • Those who are related through a parent and child relationship or grandparent and child relationship
  • Those who share a child
  • Those who are or have been members of the same household
  • Those who were or are currently in a dating relationship

What Is Domestic Violence?

One or more of the following acts are deemed domestic violence under North Carolina law:

  • Causing bodily injury to another intentionally—or attempting to do so
  • Causing fear of bodily injury 
  • Continued harassment of a member of the household
  • Committing certain sex-related crimes, i.e. sexual offenses against a child, sexual battery, or rape

Penalties for Domestic Violence in North Carolina

The criminal statutes in North Carolina allow a judge to not only sentence someone for assault or battery, but also give additional sentencing for crimes categorized as domestic violence

This might include sentencing terms like:

  • Completing treatment for psychiatric issues
  • Attending a court-mandated drug treatment program
  • Entering a facility to be treated
  • Undergoing treatment for alcohol abuse

Most of the time, the underlying charges associated with domestic violence, such as assault and battery, are misdemeanor charges. However, even misdemeanors can result in probation with strict terms. 

It’s also not unheard of for someone to be charged with a felony for these crimes, and that sentence can include time in jail.

Protective Orders

Victims of domestic violence can petition the court to place a protective order against the person accused of domestic violence. 

This is called a protective order. It can be issued under emergency circumstances if the victim believes they are in danger. Traditional protective orders can last up to 12 months. 

Emergency protective orders are usually only valid for 10 days, and the court may not notify the person named in the order. This means you could be under an emergency protective order without knowing.

Common Defenses

Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys

If you face charges of domestic violence-related crimes, you need a robust defense. 

Each situation is different, but it’s not uncommon to find defenses that utilize self-defense for the crimes, or false allegations if you did not perpetrate acts of domestic violence. An experienced attorney can help you form the proper defense.

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