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Understanding Protective Orders in North Carolina

If you find yourself in a situation where a stranger or a loved one is harassing or abusing you, it may seem as if your only option for stopping the abuse is limited to having the person arrested and then hoping they do not post bond. The law recognizes the precariousness of this option and the need to protect victims of abuse and harassment, especially when their perpetrators are still out in the community.

Another Option for Victims
This is where a restraining or protective order can be extremely helpful. These are legally enforceable orders that the court issues, essentially ordering the abuser or harasser to stay away from the victim or face jail time. Protective orders are especially ideal if the police do not have enough evidence yet to charge the person with a crime, but the person is still perpetuating the abuse or harassment. The court’s order telling the perpetrator to keep away from the victim or face jail time is often enough of a threat to deter the abuser or harasser. The order can also grant the victim temporary custody of children and/or pets, can require the abuser to pay child and spousal support, and move out of the family home. In some cases, the abuser can also be prevented from purchasing a firearm.

Who Can Obtain Protective Orders
They can be sought by any victim, whether they have a personal relationship with their abuser or harasser or not. Many victims are victims of domestic violence, which requires a “personal relationship.” If the victim does not know the perpetrator, then instead of a protective order, the perpetrator is issued a civil no-contact order. It serves the same purpose as a protective order but is named differently to recognize that there is no personal relationship between victim and perpetrator.

How to Obtain a Protective Order
Orders can be obtained fairly quickly as the law recognizes that a situation may become more violent overnight. Obtaining a protective order or no-contact order does require that the victim complete the necessary forms and provide enough information to identify the abuser. Victims will need to detail the abuse or harassment that has occurred that led up to the victim seeking the order.  The more detailed the information is, the better. If there is immediate danger involved, it is possible to seek the protective order on an ex parte basis, which means only one side (the victim’s) needs to be represented in asking for the protective order. The abuser does not need to be at the hearing for the order to be issued against them. However, it will have a very short duration, typically 10 days or less, during which time it is expected that the victim will seek a permanent order.

What the Process of Obtaining a Protective Order Looks Like
In seeking a permanent order, there will be a hearing, and the abuser will be allowed to present arguments as to why the order should not be placed against them. Of course, the victim will also have the opportunity to present their reasons as to why the temporary order—including custody and support awards—should be made permanent. Permanent here does not mean forever, but protective orders can be renewed up to one year.

Protective Orders and Domestic Violence
Protective orders are particularly important in domestic violence situations as they can be the first step to allowing a victim, the children, and any pets to escape a domestic violence situation with some measure of police protection behind them. The fact that protective orders can also require the abuser to move out of the family home, pay support, and keep away from the family can mean the difference in being able to permanently break away from the abuser.

Contact Us
If you or a loved one are in need of a protective order, the compassionate and experienced attorneys at Easterling Law will be by your side every step of the way and work to secure whatever protective orders are necessary. Don’t wait to get started – contact us today.