North Carolina Domestic Violence
North Carolina has strict laws in place that protect victims of domestic violence and the state’s broad definition of domestic violence means virtually any crime can qualify as an act of domestic violence if perpetrated against a member of the alleged offender’s family or household. If you are accused of committing an act of domestic violence against someone with whom you have a personal relationship, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense. You could even be accused of domestic violence without ever having touched the other person. To ensure that you understand the domestic violence charges against you and have the best possible defense, contact an experienced North Carolina domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible to prepare your case.
North Carolina Domestic Violence Laws
Domestic violence is against the law in North Carolina. However, the state does not have specific criminal statutes that deal exclusively with domestic violence offenses. Because of this, most domestic violence cases in North Carolina are prosecuted under the general criminal statutes. There is, however, one key factor that plays a major role in determining whether or not a criminal offense is an act of domestic violence – the relationship between the alleged victim and the accused. In order to be considered domestic violence by law in North Carolina, the alleged victim must have what is known as a “personal relationship” with the defendant. That means he or she must be the defendant’s former or current spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend or household member, a co-parent with the defendant, or the defendant’s parent, child, grandparent or grandchild. North Carolina domestic violence laws (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50B-1) state that the following offenses can constitute acts of domestic violence if perpetrated against a family or household member:
- Intentionally causing or attempting to cause bodily injury,
- Placing the person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury,
- Continued harassment that constitutes stalking and inflicts substantial emotional distress, and/or
- Committing rape or any other sex offense.
Punishment for North Carolina Domestic Violence
The criminal penalties you could face for a domestic violence conviction in North Carolina depend on a number of factors, including your criminal history and the nature and severity of the crime(s) you are accused of committing. In any domestic violence case, the underlying criminal charge, be it assault, battery or stalking, is used to determine the appropriate sentencing upon conviction.
For instance, the crime of simple assault (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-33) is a Class 2 misdemeanor in North Carolina and a first offense simple assault charge carries a possible penalty of up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. A second or subsequent offense may include an increased sentence of up to 45 days in jail. If you commit the more serious crime of felony assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill or inflict serious injury upon the other person (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-32), a Class C felony, you could be convicted and sentenced to between 44 and 182 months in prison. The crime of sexual battery (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-27.33) is a Class A1 misdemeanor in North Carolina, carrying a possible punishment of up to 60 days in jail for a first offense and up to 75 days in jail for a second or subsequent offense.
Depending on the specific facts of your case, there are other penalties that could be added on to your sentence for a domestic violence conviction, possibly including substance abuse treatment, mandatory participation in a batterer’s treatment program, and/or victim restitution.
NC Domestic Violence Protective Orders
If you have been accused of committing an act of domestic violence in North Carolina, the alleged victim can petition the court for a domestic violence protective order, also known as a restraining order. In North Carolina, a domestic violence protective order can address any number of things, including temporary possession of your shared home and possession of your vehicles, as well as custody of your children and visitation rights. It can also require you to surrender all weapons and ammunition to law enforcement, make spousal and/or child support payments, and refrain from threatening, abusing, harassing or following the alleged victim. If a judge enters a domestic violence protective order against you, the order may remain in effect for up to one year, at which point it can be renewed for another two years. If you are accused of violating the terms of a protective order, you could face additional criminal charges. Violating a domestic violence protective order in North Carolina is a misdemeanor, unless it is a third offense, in which case it becomes a felony.
Defense Against Domestic Violence Charges
Domestic violence is a serious crime and facing criminal charges for committing an act of violence or aggression against a member of your family or household can be frightening. But it is important to remember that just because you have been accused of domestic violence does not mean you are guilty. A good North Carolina criminal defense attorney can aggressively represent you against the domestic violence charges and, if your case goes to trial, present evidence and testimony that challenges the prosecution’s case and maximizes your chances of securing an acquittal. The following are some common defenses for domestic violence charges:
- Self-defense or defense of others
- Mistaken identity
- Lack of evidence
- False allegations
- Illegal search and seizure
Consult a North Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Domestic violence laws in North Carolina cover a wide range of criminal offenses, from assault to stalking to violation of a domestic violence protective order. If you have been accused of committing any domestic violence-related offense in North Carolina, is it important that you retain the services of a lawyer experienced in this particular area of the law. Domestic violence cases tend to be emotionally charged and legally complex and raising a strong defense in your case requires the skill and expertise of a lawyer with proven results. By enlisting the help of a North Carolina criminal defense attorney who has successfully defended other clients in domestic violence cases like yours, you can protect your rights and significantly improve your chances of getting a positive outcome in your case.