It’s time to say eNOugh.
Protective Order – 50B
A Domestic Violence Protective Order (sometimes commonly referred to as a “restraining order” or a “50B order”) is a restraining order that is designed specifically for victims of domestic violence to give them the protection they need from the abuser. It is different from a general restraining order because it allows a judge to order more specific forms of protection for a victim and law enforcement also has the power to enforce it by charging an abuser criminally if the abuser violates the DVPO. Local domestic violence service providers are able to assist with obtaining a 50B protective order. Additionally, some college campuses offer support with students who seek assistance in obtaining a 50B order.
Who is eligible to file for a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO)?
- 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.
Although domestic violence occurs at the same rate in same sex dating relationships as in opposite sex, currently NC law does not allow for same sex dating partners who have never been household members and who are not or have not been married to each other to file for a DVPO. If you are a victim of domestic violence in a same-sex dating relationship and don’t qualify for a DVPO, you may be able to file for a different type of restraining order called a “Civil No-Contact Order” or a “50C.” Click here for more information.
Does it cost any money to file for a Domestic Violence Protective Order/50B?
I have a “personal relationship,” as NC defines it, with the abuser. What do I need to show to qualify for a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO)?
- Domestic violence means the commission of one or more of the following acts upon an aggrieved party or upon a minor child residing with or in the custody of the aggrieved party by a person with whom the aggrieved party has or has had a personal relationship, but does not include acts of self-defense:
- Attempting to cause bodily injury, or intentionally causing bodily injury; or
- Placing the aggrieved party or a member of the aggrieved party’s family or household in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or continued harassment, as defined in G.S. 14-277.3A, that rises to such a level as to inflict substantial emotional distress; or
- Committing any act defined in G.S. 14-27.2 through G.S. 14-27.7. (Note: These are the statutes that criminalize rape and sex offenses)
What kind of protection can a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) give me?
- Ordering the abuser to have no contact with you
- Ordering the abuser to refrain from threatening, abusing, following, harassing, or otherwise interfering with you or your minor child(ren)
- Ordering the abuser to not threaten your family or household member
- Granting you temporary possession (not ownership) of a residence and excluding the abuser
- Ordering the eviction of the abuser from the residence and assisting you in returning to it
- Ordering the abuser to not cruelly treat or abuse an animal
- Granting you possession (not ownership) of an animal
- Ordering the abuser to stay away order from certain places such as your residence, workplace, school, your children’s daycare or school, or to stay a certain distance (ex. 500 feet) away from you at all times.
- Granting you temporary possession (not ownership) of a vehicle
- Prohibiting the abuser from possessing or purchasing a firearm
- Ordering the abuser to surrender current firearms and ammunition
- Ordering the abuser to complete a certified batterer intervention program
- Ordering temporary custody of minor children and establishment of visitation rights
- Ordering any additional prohibitions or requirements deemed necessary to protect you
How will the judge decide if I should be granted a DVPO?
How do I prove my case to the judge?
- Testimony from other witnesses such as law enforcement who responded to 911 calls for help, neighbors or friends who have witnessed the abuser’s actions or have seen your injuries or others who can corroborate the abuser’s domestic violence towards you
- Phone records
- Medical records
- Social media posts
- Text messages
How can I find an attorney to help me with a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO)?
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 DVPO yourself, without an attorney. Filing without an attorney, or representing yourself, is called “pro se.”
Where do I go to if I want to file for a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO)?
What paperwork is involved in filing a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO)?
What will happen after I file for a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO)?
What happens if the Sheriff can’t find the abuser to serve him/her with the Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO)?
What happens if the abuser is served with the Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) but doesn’t come to the return hearing?
What if I can’t come to the return hearing? What will happen to my case?
What if the abuser comes to the return hearing and wants to continue the case but I want to get it over with that day?
What if the abuser wants a trial at the return hearing but I am not ready and need more time so I need a continuance?
If the abuser comes to the return hearing do I have to have a trial to be granted a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO)?
If the abuser and I do have to have a hearing in order for me to get a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) at the return hearing, what can I expect?
You will put your evidence on first, starting usually with you taking the stand and testifying about what has happened. You will testify about what you wrote in your complaint and anything else that is relevant to the abuser’s actions towards you that show you are afraid of him/her and that he/she committed an act or acts of domestic violence toward you. After you finish testifying, the abuser, or his/her attorney if the abuser has one, will have the opportunity to ask you questions. This is called cross-examination. When you take the stand, you swear to tell the truth. Therefore, you should always answer questions honestly, even if you think it will “make you look bad.” After the cross-examination, the judge will usually give you a chance to say anything else you want to follow-up on.
After you testify you have the opportunity to present any other evidence to help prove your case, such as other witnesses. In addition, if you have evidence such as photos, videos, voicemails, text messages, social media messages, etc. those are considered evidence and you should try to present them to the court during your testimony as well. There are many rules the judge has to follow about what types of testimony and evidence the judge is allowed to consider. Therefore there may be times when the judge has to tell you that you can’t talk about certain things or the judge can’t look at something you brought. The judge is not trying to be mean, but is trying to follow legal rules that you may not be familiar with.
After you are done presenting all of your evidence, the abuser has a chance to present his/her evidence in the same way. You will have a chance to ask any of the abuser’s witnesses (including the abuser if the abuser testifies) questions on cross-examination. You must ask questions, and cannot argue with the abuser or the abuser’s witnesses during this time. After the abuser is done presenting his/her case, the judge may give you and the abuser (or abuser’s attorney) a chance to make a “closing statement.” If the abuser put on any evidence, then you can decide to make your closing statement last- that way you can hear what the abuser argues first before you argue to the judge. The closing statement is very short, usually only 5 minutes or less, and is a chance for you to summarize for the judge why you proved your case and should be granted a DVPO. After the judge has heard all of the evidence and closing statements, the judge will consider everything s/he heard and decide whether to grant you a DVPO, and if so, what specific terms are appropriate.
If the judge grants my request for a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO), what happens next?
How long does the Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) last?
What do I do if the abuser violates the Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO)?
However, there are many reasons why sometimes victims do not want to involve the criminal justice system. You also have the option of trying to enforce the DVPO by going back to civil court yourself and asking that the judge hold the abuser in either civil or criminal contempt of court. Similar to when you filed the original DVPO, 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 for Order to Show Cause Domestic Violence Protective Order” (AOC-CV-307). The second page of this form gives you instructions on how to complete this form. This form has to be notarized before it can be filed with the clerk’s office, so if you have access to the internet and a printer, you may want to print it out, complete it, and have it notarized before you go to the clerk’s office in order to save yourself multiple trips. You can access the form here. Further, our laws do not allow an abuser to both be convicted of a criminal violation of a DVPO and also to be held in contempt of court for the same behavior. Therefore, you will have to choose which method you want to use to enforce the order since you can’t do both.
What if I am still afraid of the abuser and my Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) is about to expire? Can I renew the Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO)?
There is no limit to how many times you can renew your DVPO, 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 DVPO in place. You would need to file a new complaint for a DVPO and start the process over again if your previous order expires. In addition, if your old DVPO expired and you are filing a new complaint, the court will likely require that some new act of domestic violence has occurred since the time the court entered the last DVPO in order for you to get a new DVPO.