When facing a situation where personal safety and security are at risk, it’s crucial to find protection. In North Carolina, protective and restraining orders are terms often used interchangeably. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the protective order vs restraining order, the criteria for obtaining one, and the essential steps you can take to ensure your safety and well-being under the law. Navigate the legal process more effectively and make informed decisions to safeguard your rights and personal safety.
How Do Restraining Orders vs. Protective Orders Work?
There are different types of protective and restraining orders, including the following:
- Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO or 50B)
- Ex Parte Protective Order (Emergency temporary protective order)
- 50C restraining order to protect those threatened by someone they are not in a relationship with
A protective order is a type of restraining order. One anti-violence organization describes it this way:
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. (1)
Whether you need a restraining or protective order depends on your relationship with the abusive person.
Domestic abuse has a particular type of protective order that gives more protection than other types of restraining orders. Let’s look at those court orders and protections next.
What is a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO or 50B)?
In North Carolina, a 50B protection order is a type of restraining order. It is also known as a “Domestic Violence Protective Order” (DVPO) under Chapter 50B of the North Carolina General Statutes. It provides legal protection for individuals who have been victims of domestic violence.
It also helps those who fear for their safety due to family abuse or the actions of a family or household member. This protection extends to the following relationships:
- Former spouses
- Parents and children or other household family members
- Individuals who are in a personal relationship
- Individuals who have a child in common
A 50B protection order grants a court order with various protections given to the petitioner against the respondent. The petitioner is the person seeking protection. The respondent is the person the petitioner seeks protection from.
A protected person can expect some of the following vital protections under a 50B protection order:
1. No Contact:
The respondent may not contact the petitioner in any way, including in person, phone calls, text messages, emails, social media, or third parties.
2. Stay-Away Order:
The respondent must stay a certain distance away from the petitioner’s residence, workplace, school, and other specified locations.
3. Temporary Custody and Visitation Orders:
The court can address temporary custody and visitation arrangements for any minor children involved. The judge may provide the petitioner with temporary custody and set visitation guidelines for the respondent.
4. Possession of Personal Property:
The court can grant the petitioner possession of essential personal items, such as clothing, personal documents, and other belongings, even if they are in a shared residence with the other party.
5. Firearms Surrender:
The respondent often must surrender any firearms or ammunition they possess if the court finds it necessary for safety.
6. Prohibition of Retaliation:
The order prohibits the respondent from retaliating against the petitioner for seeking protection.
7. Other Remedies:
Depending on the circumstances, the court may grant additional remedies to ensure the safety of the petitioner. These may include a temporary injunction for spousal support or orders related to shared financial accounts.
It’s important to note that obtaining a 50B protection order involves a legal process, including filing a petition, providing evidence of domestic violence or the fear of it, and attending a hearing.
The courts take these types of protective orders very seriously, as they involve personal safety and well-being matters. Violating a 50B protection order can lead to criminal charges and legal consequences for the respondent. A DVPO protective order can last up to two years and give family members a much-needed sense of safety.
If you are in a situation where you believe you need a 50B protection order or have questions about the process, consult with an attorney focusing on domestic violence matters. They can ensure you understand your rights and the legal steps involved.
What is an Ex Parte Emergency Protective Order?
Emergency protective orders are critical in providing immediate protection to individuals in imminent danger due to domestic violence or other threatening situations.
A court issues an ex parte emergency protective order without the presence of the respondent (the alleged perpetrator) and without prior notice to them. This is done to ensure the safety of the petitioner (the person seeking protection) when there is an urgent need for intervention.
In North Carolina, a judge or magistrate can issue an ex parte emergency protective order, also known as a temporary emergency protective order, based on the petitioner’s sworn statement or testimony that they are in immediate danger of domestic violence or harassment. The court often grants these orders when there is an immediate threat of physical harm without enough time to provide the respondent with notice or an opportunity to be heard.
Emergency protective orders typically provide similar protections to those of standard protective orders, such as the following:
- Prohibiting contact
- Requiring the respondent to stay away from the petitioner’s location
- Granting temporary custody and visitation arrangements for minor children
These orders are designed to provide immediate relief to the petitioner. They can last for a short period, often until a full hearing can be held to determine whether a longer-term protective order is necessary.
Ex Parte Protective Order is Temporary
It’s important to note that the court orders an ex parte emergency protective order without the respondent’s presence. These are temporary orders. A follow-up hearing is usually scheduled within a short time frame. At the hearing, both parties present their sides of the story.
At this hearing, the court will determine whether to extend the protective order and potentially grant a longer-term protective order if the evidence presented at the court hearing supports such a decision.
If you believe you are in immediate danger due to domestic violence or harassment, seeking an ex parte emergency protective order can provide rapid legal protection.
However, consulting with a lawyer on domestic violence is advisable to ensure you understand the process and your legal rights.
What is a 50C Restraining Order in North Carolina?
A 50C restraining order, often referred to as a “Civil No-Contact Order,” is a legal measure protecting individuals from harassment, stalking, or unwanted contact. This unwanted contact comes from someone who is not a close family or household member.
The 50B protective order specifically addresses domestic violence situations involving intimate or familial relationships. However, the 50C order focuses on providing relief in cases where there is no such relationship between the petitioner and the respondent.
This order is particularly relevant in situations involving neighbors, acquaintances, co-workers, or individuals not connected by family ties or shared living arrangements. With a 50C restraining order, individuals can seek legal protection against unwanted and potentially harmful interactions. The order allows them to regain a sense of safety and security.
We Can Help
At Cape Fear Law Firm, we understand the complexities and sensitivities surrounding protective orders and restraining orders. Legal matters related to domestic violence and harassment are serious. Our experienced team of legal professionals fully supports individuals seeking protection and justice in North Carolina.
If you need to obtain a 50B protective order or restraining order, our compassionate attorneys are here to guide your every step. We provide personalized legal counsel, assist in gathering necessary evidence, and represent your interests during hearings. Your safety is our priority. We help you understand your options, make informed decisions, and assert your rights effectively.
If you need legal assistance for a protective order case or any family law matters, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Contact Cape Fear Law Firm to protect your well-being and that of your family.