If a court is satisfied that an act of domestic violence has been committed, it may order a temporary restraining order against the defendant. The purpose is to restrain the defendant from further acts of domestic violence. This order is known as the Domestic Violence Protective Order or the 50B Order. The Domestic Violence Protection Order is a civil order commonly known as a restraining order or simply by its acronym, DVPO. It is an order of the court restraining the person against whom it is entered from doing certain things.
The order usually restrains the defendant from doing one or more of the following;
- Committing acts of domestic violence
- Having direct contact with the plaintiff or cyberstalking them
- Visiting any place the plaintiff lives or works
- Harassing the plaintiff
- Possession of firearms
- Threatening the plaintiff or their family etc.
When a person against whom any one or more of these orders is entered against does any of these things, they will be in violation of a North Carolina Domestic Violence Protection Order. Typically, this will result in being criminally charged with a DVPO violation.
DVPO in North Carolina
Many DVPOs are issued in family and domestic relationships, usually to stop violent or harassing conduct by one partner against the other.
There are various ways by which a DVPO could restrain your life as a defendant. It could restrain you from continued stay at your place of residence, seeing or contacting your minor children, or owning a firearm. Furthermore, it may even have devastating effects on your custodial rights to your minor children especially if you have a pending action.
It becomes even more complicated when combined with an existing divorce proceeding. Having to leave a shared residence, working through equitable distribution and child support can become very complicated.
There are two kinds of DVPO: ex parte DVPO and full one-year DVPO. The ex parte DVPO is usually issued by the judge without listening to the defendant. Thus, it is possible that a DVPO can be entered against you in your absence. It is valid for up to 10 days from the day you are served with the court order. It can also be entered on consent of parties.
Lastly, the second kind of DVPO which is the full one year DVPO cannot be entered against a defendant without a formal hearing. Like the ex parte DVPO it can also be entered by consent of both parties. As the name implies, this protective order subsists for a period not exceeding one year. However, there are instances where the court may renew a protective order for a fixed period of time not more than one year. Under the North Carolina Law provides that the court may renew the protective order for good cause. More often than not, the defendants at full DVPO hearings are usually put on the stand. You are advised to never participate in a DVPO hearing without an attorney.
Proof of violation
The issuance of a DVPO against you doesn’t mean you are immediately criminally liable. It is the violation of the order that may land you in jail. To successfully prove that there has been a violation of a Domestic Violation Protection Order, the prosecutor must show that;
- There is a valid and subsisting protective order legally issued by a judge
- The defendant had knowledge of the existence of such order as well as its terms
- The defendant intentionally violated the terms of the order.
Penalties for Class A1 Misdemeanor DVPO violation
DVPO violations are Class A1 misdemeanors. This is the most severe type misdemeanor in North Carolina. It carries the punishment of imprisonment for a maximum period of 150 days or some form of probation. The court also has the discretion to impose a fine in addition to other consequences. We can help explore defenses to mitigate your circumstances by appealing to the discretion of the court. Contact us now to discuss your defense strategy.
Can you challenge the restraining order?
If a DVPO has been entered by a NC court against you, you must comply with every requirement of order. Failure to respect the order can lead to your arrest and even serious criminal charges.
Invitation to meet or agreement to meet is not a defense to a charge of DVPO violation. You should be wary of accepting those invitations. In fact you should not be contacting the person who obtained the restraining order at all. Willful violation of a subsisting court order may subject you to contempt proceedings.
Challenging the order is best done through your defense attorney and not by disobeying the court order. People are often quick to dismiss their chances of succeeding at challenging a restraining order. However, not all cases are hopeless.
In fact, in our experience, we have found that in many cases, the person restrained may actually be the victim.
Defending a DVPO violation Charge
The potential damage of a permanent criminal record makes it necessary to exhaust all possible defenses on your case. There may be some rights available to you and an experienced NC attorney can help you enforce those rights. Additionally, as your trial attorney we will defend and advocate for you during the proceedings. Some of the defenses that we can raise at trial for Domestic Violence Protective Order violations include;
- Lack of Knowledge of the Protective Order: As earlier mentioned, one of the factors that must be proved is that the defendant has knowledge of the protective order. It follows that if he wasn’t aware of the order, he cannot be held to be criminally liable. Thus, in situations where a defendant was not served with a copy of the order neither or informed, lack of knowledge may be raised on your behalf.
- False allegations: This defense may be raised when the alleged victim is being dishonest in claiming that the defendant performed any prohibited act in violation of the order.
- Wrong identification: In some circumstances, the victim may have been mistaken as to the identification of the defendant. Where this identification was conducted in a setting where there was low light or inadequate opportunity to get a full view of the defendant, we can raise a defense of wrong identification.
Contact a DVPO Violation Attorney
Have you or someone you know been arrested for a DVPO violation? Seek legal advice at the earliest possible time. Our experienced criminal defense attorney will help you. Never fight a DVPO violation alone. You are better off securing the services of a criminal defense attorney to explore all possible defenses.
We will provide you with a competent defense to ensure the best possible outcome on your case. Let us start working on your defense strategy as soon as possible. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.