It’s time to say eNOugh.
No Contact Order – 50C
A Civil No-Contact Order (sometimes commonly referred to as a “50C order”) is a restraining order that is designed specifically for victims of sexual assault or stalking who do NOT have a “personal relationship” with the offender. It is different from a general restraining order because it allows a judge to order more specific forms of protection for a victim. However, it gives less protection than a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) because law enforcement has less ability to enforce it than they do a DVPO.
Who is eligible to file for a Civil No-Contact Order?
In order to file for a “Civil No-Contact Order, you must NOT have a “personal relationship” with the offender and you must have been the victim of “unlawful conduct.” North Carolina law defines only certain categories of relationships as meeting the definition of a “personal relationship.” Below are the current categories:
- Are current or former spouses;
- 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. For purposes of this subdivision, an aggrieved party may not obtain an order of protection against a child or grandchild under the age of 16;
- Have a child in common;
- Are current or former household members;
- Are persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship or have been in a dating relationship. For purposes of this subdivision, 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.
Therefore if you DO have one of the above relationships with the abuser and you want a restraining order you must file a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO/50B). If you do NOT have one of the above relationships with the offender, and you want a restraining order you may be eligible to file for a Civil No-Contact Order/50C Order.
In addition to NOT having a personal relationship with the offender, you must have been the victim of “unlawful conduct.” North Carolina defines “unlawful conduct” as:
Unlawful conduct under the statute is defined as “the commission of one or more of the following acts by a person 16 years of age or older upon a person, but does not include acts of self-defense or defense of others.” The acts included are nonconsensual sexual conduct, even if there was only one incident, and stalking. Stalking is defined as “on more than one occasion, following or otherwise harassing… another person without legal purpose with the intent to” either “place the person in reasonable fear either for the person’s safety or the safety of the person’s immediate family or close personal associates” or “cause that person to suffer substantial emotional distress by placing that person in fear of death, bodily injury, or continued harassment and that in fact causes that person substantial emotional distress.”
Does it cost any money to file a Civil No-Contact Order/50C?
No. It is free to file for a 50C.
What kind of protection can a Civil No-Contact Order give me?
If a judge grants you a Civil No-Contact Order, the judge has many options for types of “relief” or specific things the judge can order as part of the Civil No-Contact Order. The most common types of relief include:
- Ordering the defendant not to visit, assault, molest, or otherwise interfere with you
- Ordering the defendant to cease stalking you, including at your workplace
- Ordering the defendant to cease harassing you
- Ordering the defendant not to abuse or injure you
- Ordering the defendant not to contact you by telephone, written communication, or electronic means
- Ordering the defendant to refrain from entering or remaining present at your residence, school, place of employment, or other specified places at times when you are there.
How do I file for a Civil No-Contact Order?
You can file a Civil No-Contact Order in the civil clerk’s office in the county where you reside, the county where the act(s) of unlawful conduct occurred, or the county where the abuser resides. For a listing of civil clerk’s office click here. However, every county has local practices that determine when judges are available to accept filings, whether other court officials such as magistrates can also accept filings etc. Therefore, you might call the clerk’s office before going to the courthouse to try to learn more information about the process in your county. In addition, you can seek support from the community-based domestic violence agency in your county who employs advocates knowledgeable about the local practices and who can often provide court advocacy through the process of filing.
What paperwork is required to file for a Civil No-Contact Order?
You will need to fill out form AOC-CV-520, which is a Complaint for No-Contact Order for Stalking or Nonconsensual Sexual Contact, located here. In addition, you will need form AOC-CV-521. Although you can access these online, your local clerk’s office should also have copies for you to fill out there as well. You will also need to an Affidavit under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which is AOC-G-250.
How can I find an attorney to help me with a Civil No-Contact Order?
If you do not have the financial ability to hire an attorney, Legal Aid of North Carolina might be able to assist you. Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide program which provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income persons. One of their priority civil cases is Domestic Violence Protective Orders and Civil No-Contact Orders. However, due to funding cuts, Legal Aid often does not have the resources to serve every low-income victim who needs representation in their Domestic Violence Protective Order and Civil No-Contact Order cases. You can find out if you are eligible and if Legal Aid has the resources to represent you by calling Legal Aid’s intake line: 1-866-219-5262. In addition, many of the community-based domestic violence agencies may have legal resources- whether it is a direct referral program to their local Legal Aid office, relationships with other attorneys in the community who are willing to represent victims for free or low cost, or occasionally who have attorneys on staff. You can find the number to your community-based domestic violence agency here. If you have the financial means to hire an attorney, the NC Bar Association offers a Lawyer Referral Service. You can learn more about this service on their website or call the referral service number at 1-800-662-7660. Finally, you have the right to file for a Civil No-Contact Order yourself, without an attorney. Filing without an attorney, or representing yourself, is called “pro se.”
How long does the Civil No-Contact Order last?
The judge can grant you a Civil No-Contact Order for up to one year from the date of your return hearing. In most circumstances, when a judge grants a Civil No-Contact Order, s/he typically grants it for a full year. However, the judge can order the Civil No-Contact Order for less than a year (for example, 6 months) if the judge feels for some reason that the Civil No-Contact Order is not needed for an entire year. It also means that you can ask that the order be in place for less than a year if for any reason you want the order in place for less than a year. But one year is the longest the judge can issue the original Civil No-Contact Order under any circumstance.
What do I do if the offender violates the Civil No-Contact Order?
There is no one right option for what to do when an abuser violates a Civil No-Contact Order. The Civil No-Contact Order statute, 50C, specifically allows for you to enforce the order through contempt of court. This is done by you going back to civil court yourself (or with an attorney) and asking that the judge hold the offender in either civil or criminal contempt of court. Similar to when you filed the original Civil No-Contact Order, you will need to go the civil clerk’s office in your county to get the appropriate paperwork to complete. The Administrative Office of the Courts has developed a form for you to fill out and file with the clerk’s office called a “Motion and Order to Show Cause for Failure to Comply with No-Contact Order For Stalking or Nonconsensual Sexual Conduct” (AOC-CV-528). In addition, if the offender is violating the law, such as threatening you or stalking you, you can always call the police, regardless of whether you have a Civil No-Contact Order in place. Although there is not a specific crime for “Violation of a Civil No-Contact Order,” law enforcement can absolutely charge an offender with an appropriate crime such as communicating threats, harassing phone calls, or stalking if the offender’s behavior violates those laws. In addition, if the offender is stalking you while you have a Civil No-Contact Order (or any court order) in place which forbids the offender from contacting or harassing you, it elevates the stalking crime from a misdemeanor to a felony.
What if I am still afraid of the offender and my Civil No-Contact Order is about to expire? Can I renew the Civil No-Contact Order?
Yes, you can file a motion and ask the judge to renew the Civil No-Contact Order. Similar to when you filed the original Civil No-Contact Order, you will need to go the civil clerk’s office in your county to get the appropriate paperwork to complete. The Administrative Office of the Courts has developed a form for you to fill out and file with the clerk’s office called a “Motion to Renew a No-Contact Order for Stalking or Nonconsensual Sexual Conduct” (AOC-CV-525) which you can find here. You would complete this form, stating the reasons you wish to renew the Civil No-Contact Order. The motion to renew the Civil No-Contact Order will then be set for a hearing before a judge. The offender will be mailed notice of the hearing. It will be up to the judge whether or not to renew the Civil No-Contact Order. This time when the judge is considering whether to keep the Civil No-Contact Order in place, the judge determines whether there is “good cause” to renew the Civil No-Contact Order. The judge can find good cause, even if the offender did not violate the Civil No-Contact Order. The Civil No-Contact Order can be renewed for up to 1 year at a time. If you want to renew your Civil No-Contact Order, it is very important that you file the motion to renew it BEFORE your current Civil No-Contact Order expires. Clerks offices usually recommend filing the motion approximately one month before your current Civil No-Contact Order expires- but it is probably best to check with your local clerk’s office. You can find the number for your civil clerk of court’s office by using the Administrative Office of the Courts website, selecting “Courts,” selecting “Court Information by County,” selecting your county, and then selecting “Court Telephone Directory” on the left-hand side. This usually brings up a list of phone numbers, including the civil clerk’s office, district attorney, magistrate and other numbers for court personnel.
There is no limit to how many times you can renew your Civil No-Contact Order, as long as a judge finds there is good cause. If the order expires before you file your motion to renew, you will no longer have a Civil No-Contact Order in place. You would need to file a new complaint for a Civil No-Contact Order and start the process over again if your previous order expires. In addition, if your old Civil No-Contact Order expired and you are filing a new complaint, the court will likely require that some new act of unlawful conduct has occurred since the time the court entered the last Civil No-Contact Order in order for you to get a new Civil No-Contact Order.
For more information about what to expect in court, continuances, and the civil process in general, see the Q&A under Domestic Violence Protective Orders.