North Carolina Domestic Violence Laws Will be Changing

Domestic violence continues to be a significant problem for North Carolina residents. In an effort to combat domestic violence, North Carolina Governor Cooper signed BIllS493 into law on July 26th, 2019. The new law took effect on December 1, 2019, and makes three significant changes to North Carolina’s domestic violence laws.

If you are facing a domestic violence charge in North Carolina, our skilled criminal defense attorneys can help. We have successfully defended many clients against assault, stalking, and violation of domestic protective order. Contact our law firm today to learn how our skilled attorneys can fight for your constitutional rights throughout the criminal justice process.

Batterer Treatment Program Changes in North Carolina’s New Domestic Violence Law

Defendants who receive a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) against them must complete a batterer treatment program. Prior to the law change, victims had the responsibility to make sure that the defendant complied with this requirement. North Carolina lawmakers determined that it is not right to place further hardships on domestic violence victims by giving them the responsibility to make sure the defendant complies with the law.

Many defendants did not comply with the requirement to get help through a batterer treatment program and there is no real way to enforce the requirement. Now that BIllS493 has been enacted, when a judge enters a DVPO, the judge will schedule a hearing to ensure that the defendant complied with the requirement to attend a batterer intervention program.

North Carolina’s New Law Prohibits Competing Orders Between Judges

In many domestic violence situations, a DVPO will resolve an issue temporarily. For example, a DVPO might resolve an issue regarding the possession of a home or vehicle. Another judge might issue a subsequent order that allows the other party to have possession of the home or vehicle. Contradictory DVPO creates uncertainty among those involved in domestic violence. BIllS493 changes current domestic violence laws to state that when one DVPO contradicts another DVPO, the later or most recently issued DVPO will become controlling. The most recent DVPO will overrule any previous and contradicting DVPOs.

Changes to DVPO Expirations

All North Carolina Domestic Violence Protection Orders state that the order is effective until a certain date specified by the judge. North Carolina law requires that a DVPO cannot last for more than one year. However, questions remained about when, exactly, a DVPO expired. Does a DVPO expire at 12.01 the day after the expiration date? Or do they expire at 11:59 on the day of the DVPO expiration date? Some argued that they expire when the courthouse closes on the expiration date. BIllS493 makes clear that a DVPO expires on the expiration date at 11:59 pm. Now, when victims file a request to renew the order, they know exactly when the order expires. Also, judges have a more concrete regulation which is helpful when a defendant allegedly violates a DVPO around the time it expires.

Addressing DVPO Allegations in North Carolina

Defendants charged with violating a DVPO face serious consequences. When a judge enters a DVPO, a judge can enter a “do not contact” order for up to a year. DVPO orders can require the Defendant to not harass, threaten, or assault the plaintiff. Judges can also add the following requirements to DVPO orders:

  • Make temporary child custody determinations
  • Order the defendant to attend anger management classes
  • Demand that the defendant refrain from seeing or contacting the plaintiff

Before judges issue a DVPO, they hold a DVPO hearing. These hearings are often complicated and stressful. The plaintiff will try to prove that the defendant engaged in physical abuse or threatened physical abuse. The plaintiff must have a present or past relationship with the defendant, including a romantic relationship or a familial relationship. When judges do enter a DVPO, the defendant will not have a criminal record because a DVPO is a civil offense. Nonetheless, defendants who violate the terms set forth in the DVPO face serious penalties.

Our Charlotte Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys Can Help

If you have violated a Domestic Violence Protective Order in Charlotte, North Carolina, you are facing serious consequences. For example, when a DVPO states that the defendant cannot make contact with the plaintiff, violation of the order is an A1 misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 150 days in jail. Our lawyers know how to fight hard to defend our clients in DVPO violation matters. Contact our Charlotte criminal defense law firm today to learn how we can help you.