North Carolina law provides special protections for persons seeking a domestic violence protective order (“DVPO”) under state statute chapter 50B. Chapter 50B specifies qualifying “domestic” relationships such as current or former spouses; persons having a current or former dating relationship; and current or former household members. This year, the North Carolina Supreme Court affirmed case precedent extending the available protections under Chapter 50B to same-sex couples. (M.E. v. T.J., 2022-N.C.S.C-23).
An individual seeking a DVPO (called the “petitioner” or “plaintiff”) first files a complaint with the court; this complaint can include a request for emergency relief if he or she “believes there is a danger of serious and immediate injury to himself or herself or a minor child” (N.C. Gen. Stat. 50B-2(b)). A district court judge or a magistrate may grant emergency relief—called an “Ex Parte Order”—if it finds a “clearly app[arent]” danger of domestic violence based upon specific facts provided by Petitioner.
An Ex Parte Order operates like a temporary DVPO to protect Petitioner before Petitioner’s complaint is heard by the Court; it orders Defendant not to contact or harass Petitioner for 10-days (or longer, if necessary) until Petitioner’s case is heard in court. Violating an ex parte order is a class A1 Misdemeanor (the most serious misdemeanor) and, if convicted, a Defendant can face up to 150-days in jail depending upon his or her prior criminal record.
Our next post will discuss the post-complaint process for obtaining. If you or a loved one has questions about your eligibility for a DVPO or urgently need to petition for one, the dedicated attorneys at Apple Payne Law in Kernersville are ready to help. Call Apple Payne Law today to speak with one of our experienced attorneys who will help you make a plan to protect yourself and your family.