In the wake of school shootings and increased violence, state Rep. Marcia Morey has introduced a bill in the North Carolina House of Representatives that would allow judges to issue court orders for the surrender of all firearms and ammunition when domestic violence allegations are filed.
House Bill 976 is being deemed as a red flag bill. Other red flag bills have been signed into law in nine states, and they are currently being proposed in 10 other states.
The passage of the bill will be difficult since Republicans hold the majority in the state’s General Assembly. However, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of North Carolinians who die from gun wounds is higher than the national average. Assaults with firearms are up 12 percent over 2015.
These stats have motivated lawmakers to push the legislation, and as domestic violence cases continue to rise in North Carolina, pressure to pass the bill may increase.
How the New Restrictions Would Work
If House Bill 976 becomes law in our state, certain parties in domestic violence cases can petition the court to issue a risk-protection order.
The judge will then evaluate the evidence and determine whether the accused person poses a danger to him- or herself and others. If evidence strongly points to a potential danger, the accused person would be required to surrender all permits, firearms, and ammunition for up to one year.
If the accused person doesn’t turn these items in, law enforcement officers could conduct a search and seizure under a court-ordered warrant.
The parties eligible to file for court orders include the following:
- Current or former spouses
- Current or former dating partners
- Current or former household members
- Other parent of your child
- Legal guardians
- Live-in partners of parents
Current Domestic Violence Laws in North Carolina
North Carolina is already one of 15 states that collect firearms and ammunition from offenders who are under a restraining order for charges of domestic violence. The reason for such tough measures? Research indicates that a victim of domestic violence is five times more likely to be killed if a firearm is present.
Domestic violence includes the following acts under North Carolina laws:
- Intentional attempts or acts of bodily injury
- Placing another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury
- Placing another person in fear of continual harassment
- Any acts of torment, terrorism, or attempts to terrify another person
- Acts of violent sexual assault
The victim need not experience actual injury for charges to apply. Note that threats of violence or harassment can constitute charges.
A victim can file a civil lawsuit for damages due to injury and/or pain and suffering. An offender can also face criminal charges for domestic violence.
These are the most common misdemeanor domestic violence charges filed in North Carolina:
- Harassment by phone call
- Criminal trespass
- Communicating threats
- Damaging personal property
- Interfering with emergency communication
- Injuring a female
- Injuring a pregnant woman
- Pointing a gun
- Assault of serious injury
- Assault in a child’s presence
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Sexual battery
- Violating a protective order
The most common felony charges are non-fatal strangulation, certain sexual offenses, and rape.
Penalties for Domestic Violence Charges in North Carolina
Domestic violence charges can be filed in any of the relationships described above. A judge can enhance a regular sentence if domestic violence occurred.
The judge may order these special probationary requirements if you are convicted of domestic violence in North Carolina:
- Psychiatric or medical treatment
- Drug treatment program
- Alcohol monitoring
- Home confinement
If your case involves spousal support, child support, or child custody, the judge may modify the orders to prevent you from having contact with your spouse, former spouse, or children.
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you will face up to 150 days in jail along with fines and possibly restitution and community service. If you are convicted of a felony, you may face prison time of several years.
Get Legal Help for North Carolina Domestic Violence Charges
As you can see, domestic violence charges can create serious consequences for you. You may be required to give up many freedoms, including the right to own firearms.