What is Domestic Violence?

What is considered Domestic Violence? How is Domestic Violence defined in North Carolina?

The State of North Carolina defines Domestic Violence by statute in § 50B-1. Domestic violence means the commission of one or more of the following acts upon an aggrieved party or upon a minor child residing with or in the custody of the aggrieved party by a person with whom the aggrieved party has or has had a personal relationship, but does not include acts of self-defense.

These acts are set by statute:

1. Attempting to cause bodily injury, or intentionally causing bodily injury
2. Placing the aggrieved party or a member of the aggrieved party’s family or household in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or continued harassment, as defined in G.S. 14-277.3A, that rises to such a level as to inflict substantial emotional distress.
3. Committing any act defined in G.S. 14-27.2 through G.S. 14-27.7.
a. § 14 27.2. First degree rape.
b. § 14 27.3. Second degree rape.
c. § 14 27.4. First degree sexual offense.
d. § 14 27.5. Second degree sexual offense.
e. § 14 27.6: Repealed by Session Laws 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 14, s. 71(3).
f. § 14 27.7. Intercourse and sexual offenses with certain victims; consent no defense.

What does a “personal relationship” mean in Domestic Violence cases?

1. Current or former spouses
2. Persons of opposite sex who live together or have at some time lived together
3. Related as parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren and other parental relationships.
4. A man and woman who have a child in common
5. Current or former household members
6. Persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship or have been in a dating relationship. The dating relationship has to be romantic in nature and more than just friends or casual acquaintances.

The large majority of criminal domestic cases in Wake County involve assault(s) between a man and woman who have a sexual relationship and live together. These include Simple Assault, Assault on a Female, Assault by Strangulation and various Sexual Assaults. Domestic violence or DV cases in Wake County are taken very seriously by police, magistrates, defense attorneys and district attorneys because of the potentially dangerous nature of the situation.

Are gay or lesbian couples subject to Domestic Violence charges?

Yes, in the sense they can be charged with assaulting each other, but North Carolina does not place the “48 Hold” for domestic violence arrests on gay or lesbian couples. That means that they can be charged with the same crimes as heterosexual couples, such as assault and battery, but they will not be subject to the pre-trail release condition of bond only being issued by a district court judge. If someone in a gay or lesbian relationship is charge with a Domestic Violence related crime a Magistrate will set their bond or other pre-trial release conditions.

Do I need a lawyer to get a protective order? Should I get an attorney if I am a victim of Domestic Violence?

By statue you may file for a 50B Domestic Violence Protective Order without a lawyer. This is considered acting Pro Se or representing yourself. In all legal matters you always have the option of representing yourself, but it may be in your best interest to contact a lawyer who handles domestic violence cases. They will be able to provide vital insight and guide you through the process while protecting your rights. If you cannot afford to hire a private attorney for domestic civil matters you should contact Legal Aid of North Carolina or other non-profit groups like Interact. They provide extremely valuable services to individuals in domestic violence situations.

Contact info for free legal services in Wake County for Domestic Violence:

Interact of Wake County

1012 Oberlin Road Raleigh, NC 27605
(919) 828-7501

Legal Aid of North Carolina
224 South Dawson Street Raleigh, NC 27601-1306
(919) 856-2180


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