Restraining Orders in North Carolina

In North Carolina, there are two types of restraining orders available to victims of domestic violence and stalking: domestic violence protective orders and civil no-contact orders. Here, we discuss the differences between the two types of orders, what happens when a restraining order is filed against you, and how an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney can help you.  

What Are the Two Types of Restraining Orders in North Carolina?

A domestic violence protective order (often referred to as a “50B”) is filed by a person seeking protection from someone with whom the victim has a “personal relationship.” 

This order requires that you prove to a North Carolina court that you have experienced domestic violence, which includes:

  • attempting to cause bodily injury
  • intentionally causing bodily injury
  • placing the victim or her family in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or continued harassment
  • committing rape or other sex offense

A civil no-contact order (often referred to as a “50C”) is filed by a person seeking protection from someone with whom the victim does not have a personal relationship. 

The victim must have experienced “unlawful conduct,” which is non-consensual sexual conduct or stalking. Nonconsensual sexual conduct only has to take place one time, whereas stalking is harassment of another person more than one time.

Who Can File a Restraining Order?

The main difference between the two orders is who can apply for them. If you have a personal relationship with the defendant, you must file a 50B order. Personal relationships include:

  • current or former spouses
  • persons of the opposite sex who live together or have lived together 
  • parent/child relationships
  • those with a child in common
  • current household members 
  • anyone in a dating relationship with someone of the opposite sex 

Those who do not fall into one of the personal relationship categories must file a 50C.

What Happens When a Restraining Order Is Filed?

Once a complaint, setting forth the reason for requesting the restraining order, is filed, the process for both 50B and 50C orders is typically the same: a court holds a hearing to determine whether a temporary order should be granted, followed by a full hearing to determine whether a permanent order will be granted. 

Temporary Restraining Orders

First, the court will conduct an ex-parte hearing without the defendant present. If granted, a temporary restraining order will usually last no more than ten days.

Final Restraining Orders

Typically no more than ten days after a complaint is filed, a judge will hold a full hearing at which both parties are present and argue their side of the case, and the judge will make a ruling. Both a final domestic violence protective order and a permanent civil no-contact order generally last up to one year but can be extended. 

How We Can Help

The consequences of having a restraining order filed against you can extend beyond simply being ordered to stay away from the complainant. It could result in the loss of your home (if you lived with the victim), influence child custody decisions, and prevent you from purchasing a gun. If you violate a 50B, the consequences are even more severe, and you could be jailed and charged with a crime for the violation. 

Whether you have already been placed under a restraining order and need to know how to proceed or you want to defend yourself against one, we’re here to help