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Domestic Violence Legal Advocacy

In North Carolina, domestic violence can be defined in simple terms as abuse, fear of abuse, harassment, or undue manipulation or control that occurs between two parties involved, or formerly involved, in a personal or intimate relationship. This can include spouses, former spouses, opposite sex couples who have lived together, children, parents, and grandparents. Domestic violence is not limited to physical violence and may also include sexual assault, mental abuse, harassment, and stalking.

Helpmate, the primary provider of crisis-level domestic violence services in Buncombe County, reports serving 1,869 clients during their 2012- 2013 fiscal year. According to the North Carolina Department of Justice, in 2012, there were 122 deaths in North Carolina attributable to domestic violence. Sixteen of those domestic violence deaths were in Western North Carolina. The effects of domestic violence ripple throughout our community.

It is not uncommon for allegations of domestic violence to arise in conjunction with a separation or divorce. Sometimes domestic violence may be the cause for such separation or divorce. On rare occasions, one party may falsely accuse the other of child abuse or other acts of domestic violence in order to gain leverage in a child custody or divorce proceeding.

In North Carolina, there are two types of restraining orders that are available to Plaintiff’s/victims. North Carolina General Statute § 50-B provides relief for those people who are persons of opposite sex who live together or have lived together; are related as parents and children, including others acting in loco parentis to a minor child, or as grandparents and grandchildren; have a child in common; are current or former household members; or are persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship or have been in a dating relationship. A dating relationship is one wherein the parties are romantically involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship. A casual acquaintance or ordinary fraternization between persons in a business or social context is not a dating relationship.

The other type of No-Contact Order is provided for under North Carolina General Statute § 50-C. These Orders provide relief for people who do not qualify under the terms of a 50-B. An example of when you would file a 50-C versus a 50-B would be if you had a dispute with a neighbor and needed protection. Both 50-B’s and 50-C’s are considered civil matters, however, a violation of a 50-B restraining Order could result in criminal charges, while a violation of a 50-C would result in a Contempt Motion.

Being convicted in a civil or criminal proceeding of domestic violence has serious and long-term consequences. For example, your name will be added to a national domestic violence registry and it may adversely affect your employment or restrict your ability to own or possess a firearm. Regardless of whether you are a victim of domestic violence or an individual accused of domestic violence, it is in your best interest to have an attorney representing you in both civil and criminal legal proceedings. An attorney representing you in civil domestic violence related proceedings can explain your legal rights and depending on your situation, assist you in obtaining or defending a restraining order and/or an emergency child custody order.

At the law firm of Gum, Hillier, and McCroskey P. A., attorney Janet Amburgey provides legal services in civil matters to both victims and those accused of acts of domestic violence. Please call our office at 828-258-3368 or fill out our contact form to receive additional information online.

This article is for information purposes only and is not to be considered or substituted as legal advice. The information in this article is based on North Carolina state laws in effect at the time of posting.