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The Difference Between Civil and Criminal Protective Orders in North Carolina

Finding out that your spouse, partner, roommate, ex, neighbor, or even parent has filed a protective or restraining order against you can be shocking and disturbing. You may feel a wide range of emotional responses and wonder what negative implications a protective order will have on your future, including your reputation.

You do not have to deal with protective orders alone. You can challenge the protective order and potentially have it removed. Additionally, you can also seek to prevent the protective order from becoming permanent with the help of a Texas criminal defense attorney.

How are Protective Orders 50B and 50C Different?

North Carolina has two types of protective orders: a domestic violence protective order (50B) and a civil no-contact order (50C). The difference includes who may file for the protective order based on the relationship between the defendant and the plaintiff. The penalties for violating the protective order are also different depending on the type of protective order.

The person seeking a protective order is called the plaintiff. The person for whom the protective order is against is called the defendant. Those under 18 can file for a restraining order but need a parent or guardian to file it on their behalf. Plaintiffs may file for protective orders in their home county, but sometimes they file where the alleged abuser lives or where the alleged incident of abuse occurred.

North Carolina Domestic Violence Protective Orders (50B)

Domestic violence protective orders can only be filed by a plaintiff with a personal, intimate, or familiar relationship with the defendant. Plaintiffs can include spouses, former spouses, unmarried couples of the opposite sex, couples who have a child together, parents, grandparents, and household family members.

Anyone living in North Carolina, regardless of immigration or citizen status, has the right to file for a 50B protective order against a defendant of the opposite sex with whom they had an intimate or personal relationship.

Grounds for a Domestic Violence Protective Order in North Carolina

There are several grounds courts recognized to issue domestic violence protection orders, including the following:

  • Cruelty
  • Keeping a plaintiff isolated
  • Limiting access to transportation, money, or employment
  • Physical or sexual abuse
Ex-Parte Temporary Protective Orders

If a plaintiff believes they are imminently in danger, they can ask the court for an ex-parte and temporary protective order. A magistrate or judge can issue this type of emergency order the same day the plaintiff files the complaint, and the defendant does not need to be present. An ex-parte temporary protective order is filed within 72 hours or by the end of the day the court is in session.

An example would be the plaintiff filing and asking for an ex-parte temporary protective order on a Wednesday. If Thursday is a holiday, the court is not in session on Friday. The ex-parte hearing would occur on Monday. Both sides present for a hearing on whether the court should issue a longer-lasting 50B restraining order.

North Carolina Civil No-Contact Orders (50C)

50C orders, also called civil no-contact orders, protect victims from unwelcome sexual conduct and harassment. Stalking and Harassing phone calls and emails are examples of unwelcome harassment. If a neighbor or coworker continually makes sexual remarks to a person or touches someone inappropriately, the victim can pursue a no-contact order. Plaintiffs do not have to prove that they have suffered a physical injury to obtain a 50C order.

Workers who have experienced stalking or harassment in the workplace need to go through a separate process under the Workplace Violence Prevention Act. Employers or employees named as defendants may lose their right to go to their workplace when a 50C order stands.

Consequences of a Protective Order

The consequences of a protective order can be significant. You may have to leave your home, pay spousal and child support, or temporarily lose your child custody or parenting rights. A court granting a 50C protective order could limit where you may go, including public places and your workplace.

Contact a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney in North Carolina

Whether you're facing a civil or domestic violence protective order, the first step to defend yourself is to contact a skilled attorney. The Charlotte criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are prepared to fight for your rights and protect you from the negative effects a protective order can have on your reputation. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.