Domestic Violence Laws in North Carolina


Domestic violence can have a profound effect on families. It can be the cause of significant stress for children who live with the looming specter of violence in their daily lives and lead to emotional problems and difficulty performing well in school.

Additionally, many children who grow up in households where domestic violence is present may themselves become perpetrators or victims of domestic violence as adults.

For the survivors of domestic violence, there often is an internal struggle between their continued love for their partner and belief that their partner is a good person who can reform, and a desire to leave an unhealthy or even dangerous situation. According to the American Bar Association, an estimated 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by a romantic partner annually in the United States.

Sometimes there is no clear-cut victim or abuser in a relationship, and domestic violence is perpetrated by both partners. That kind of situation can muddy the waters of divorce or child custody proceedings when the partners decide to split, as can false accusations of domestic violence made in order to gain an advantage in a divorce or child custody proceeding. Jonathan Breeden can help you whether you are a victim of domestic violence or you have been wrongly accused of domestic violence.

No matter the circumstance, domestic violence is a serious issue that should be treated as such. Fortunately, there are resources and legal options available to help. Survivors have legal options to seek protection, and charities and social service agencies can help survivors to escape a dangerous situation and rebuild their lives. The wrongly accused get to have their day in court where they can explain their side of what happened.

Another important resource for families trying to move past domestic violence is the help of an experienced family lawyer who can handle legal matters such as restraining orders or negotiating divorce and child custody agreements. A compassionate North Carolina domestic violence lawyer also can help families access resources that help them heal.

Contact Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970 to schedule a consultation.

What rights do I have as a victim of domestic violence in North Carolina?

What rights do I have as a victim of domestic violence in North Carolina?

Domestic Violence in North Carolina

Domestic violence is a complicated issue, and people experiencing domestic violence often have many questions about how the law can help them move forward. Jonathan Breeden has the knowledge and experience to answer your questions and represent your interests no matter your family law needs.

  • Domestic Violence Protective Orders – Obtaining a restraining order can be the first step in breaking the cycle of domestic violence and allowing survivors to regain a sense of safety and normalcy. Learn more about domestic violence protective orders in North Carolina, how to get one, and how an attorney can help with the process.
  • Domestic Violence Court Process When a domestic violence case goes to court, there are a number of hearings and meetings you have to attend. For help with this highly-emotional, sometimes overwhelming process, contact a domestic violence lawyer today.
  • Violating a Restraining Order – Violation of a domestic violence protective order is a misdemeanor crime in North Carolina that can have serious consequences. Learn more about the criminal penalties for violating a restraining order and what to expect from the court process if you’ve been accused of a violation.
  • Domestic Violence & Child Custody – Domestic violence can have an effect on the outcome of child custody complaints in North Carolina. Learn more about your options and rights as a parent and how a family lawyer can help you to accomplish your goals and help your family achieve a positive outcome.
  • Domestic Violence Between Siblings – Sometimes arguments between siblings go too far, and abuse between brothers and sisters occurs. When a disagreement turns aggressive and veers into sibling abuse, it’s important to consult an attorney for help as soon as possible.
  • Military Domestic Violence Active and former service members face serious consequences if they’re accused of committing domestic violence. Learn more with the help of a skilled NC domestic violence attorney.
  • Domestic Violence Resources – Domestic violence survivors don’t have to go through the process of rebuilding their lives alone, nor do perpetrators who want help to stop the violence. Learn more about community resources in Johnston, and Harnett counties that can provide help for families experiencing domestic violence.
  • Restraining Order Process – As a victim of domestic violence, you may be feeling frightened and unsure of what you should do. Know that there are options. Learn more.
  • Criminal Consequences of Domestic Violence Charges – Domestic violence charges can result in serious criminal consequences. You may face incarceration, fines, and additional related criminal charges. Attorney Jonathan Breeden can help if you’ve been accused of domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Court Process

When you have been harmed through domestic violence, you may suddenly find yourself involved in multiple court cases. Domestic violence can lead to criminal and civil matters. Some of these matters you have control over, such as whether to file for a protective order, sue for personal injuries, or seek a divorce or child custody. You may have no control over criminal charges brought by a prosecutor, though you may be asked to participate in the case.

These civil and criminal court cases are important, and they may overlap. Because of this, it is essential that you have a domestic violence lawyer to represent your interests and guide you through the domestic violence court process.

What Happens at a Domestic Violence Hearing?

When individuals refer to domestic violence hearings, they are usually talking about hearings for protective orders. If you were harmed by someone you have a personal relationship with, you can ask for a domestic violence protective order (DVPO), also known as a 50B order.

An attorney can help you obtain a protective order right away. If you have initial evidence of domestic violence and the harm another person caused you, then you can obtain an ex parte order without the other person being present. This is a temporary order that is put into place until you can go through a hearing with the other person there.

At the full DVPO hearing, the other individual has the right to defend themselves against your accusations. You must prove the domestic violence occurred, and that your safety requires the DVPO. If you provide the necessary amount of evidence, then the judge will order a long-term restraining order for up to one year. This order is renewable in the future.

Personal Injury Claims

If the singular or multiple instances of domestic violence caused you physical injuries, then you may choose to sue your abuser for compensation. This is a separate legal proceeding from obtaining a protective order or any criminal proceedings related to the situation.

Filing a personal injury claim may help you obtain justice and financial assistance after suffering from abuse. You may pursue compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, physical pain, and mental suffering. You also can seek additional compensation if you now have a long-term or permanent disability or disfigurement.

In a criminal court, prosecutors must prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil personal injury case, your burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence, which is lower than the criminal standard. Therefore, even if your abuser defeats criminal charges, they may still be held responsible for a personal injury claim.

If you wish to pursue a civil claim against your abuser, you need to work with an experienced domestic violence attorney. A personal injury claim can require a number of meetings and court hearings. They can take months or more than a year. A lawyer will explain what you should expect during a personal injury case, and they will ensure you are prepared for any hearing you must attend.

Divorce and Child Custody

If you seek a divorce from your abuser, or you share children with the person and need to ask for custody, you should work with an attorney for divorce who will prepare you for how domestic violence allegations impact family matters.

In a divorce, domestic violence allegations can affect your property distribution, spousal support, and child support. If you establish that you were the victim of abuse during your marriage, you may successfully argue for a more significant percentage of the marital estate. You may wish to fight for a higher amount of your shared assets if you were financially restricted or taken advantage of during the marriage. After proving domestic violence, you may also use this as support for your right to alimony, as well as a higher amount of support for a more extended period.

Whether or not a child custody matter is a part of a divorce, it can be greatly influenced by domestic violence claims. Establishing that you and/or your children were victims of physical, psychological, or sexual abuse can support you receiving full legal and physical custody of the children. It may also provide leverage for you to ask for your child’s other parent to only have supervised visitation.

In either a divorce or child custody matter, you can expect multiple court hearings. Some of these you must attend, and others your domestic violence attorney can attend and represent you. By having an experienced attorney on your side, you can get through these difficult processes as smoothly as possible.

Criminal Charges

Separate from any civil claims you may file, domestic violence can lead to criminal charges. Domestic violence is illegal in North Carolina, though it is not a singular crime. Domestic violence is any offense between individuals with certain relationships. It may be assault, battery, stalking, harassment, or a sex offense.

Domestic violence may be between

  • Current and former spouses
  • Individuals who live together while in a romantic relationship
  • Parents and children
  • Grandparents and grandchildren
  • Individuals who share a child together
  • Current or former household members
  • Current or former dating partners

If another person committed a violent or sexual crime against you, and you two shared one of these relationships, then the offense may be charged as domestic violence.

When prosecutors choose to file charges against the individual who abused you, you may be wondering, ““what happens at an arraignment for domestic violence?” You may also be asking yourself if you have to testify. You should have a domestic violence lawyer during this time. You also need legal protections even though you are not on trial. Domestic violence trials without a victim present are possible but are extremely rare.

How a Domestic Violence Lawyer Can Help

Being harmed by someone you know and care about is traumatic. Having to deal with one or more court processes following any abuse makes the situation even more stressful and emotional. The best way to handle the ramifications of domestic violence is to work with an understanding and experienced attorney

Attorney Jonathan Breeden is a family lawyer practicing in Johnston, Wake, and Harnett counties with more than 20 years of experience helping people through difficult situations such as domestic violence, divorce, custody disputes, and other legal matters. He handles each case with sensitivity and compassion, and with the tenacity and attention needed to get the best possible outcome.


Divorce In North Carolina: What You Need To Know

A book by Jonathan Breeden