How is domestic violence defined in North Carolina?

Most family relationships in the United States do not involve any threat of domestic violence under normal circumstances.

However, when family and close relatives have to stay inside together for long periods of time, tensions may rise and the risk of domestic violence could increase. In fact, recent events have led to a significant uptick in domestic violence, according to NPR.

Domestic violence laws can vary from state-to-state, so it’s wise to know how your state classifies it.

Actions considered domestic violence

In times like these, it is critical to obtain a working knowledge of domestic violence law in North Carolina. You need to understand how the state defines domestic violence and what consequences can result.

According to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50B, acts of domestic violence include:

  • Physical violence, which can include the intentional infliction of bodily harm or the attempt to inflict bodily harm
  • The threat of physical violence, or placing the victim in fear of imminent bodily harm
  • Harassment and stalking that causes substantial emotional distress

Relationship requirement

The law classifies all the acts listed above as crimes. However, these acts become domestic violence when they have a past or present relationship component. Threatening physical violence against a casual friend would is not domestic violence, according to the letter of the law.

The legal definition of domestic violence states the victim and the accused must have one of the following types of relationships:

  • A spouse or ex-spouse
  • A person of the opposite sex who lives with you or who has lived with you
  • A parent or a child
  • Someone with whom you have a child in common
  • Current or former household member
  • Someone of the opposite sex with whom you have or had a dating relationship

Consequences

If the court finds that the facts support a reasonable danger of domestic violence occurring in the near future, numerous consequences can occur, including:

  • Protective order: The court could grant emergency relief that could include a restraining order and protective custody.
  • Civil action: The victim is granted a right to civil action under the statute. This means you could face a lawsuit.
  • Loss of custody and visitation rights: At least temporarily, the court could remove you from your children and cut off your access completely.
  • Loss of firearms: Upon the issue of a protective order, the court will order you to relinquish all your firearms to the sheriff.

It is important to note these consequences are strictly for the initial accusation. This list does not include the long-ranging, severe consequences if you are found guilty of domestic violence. Facing a domestic violence charge can be scary, but you don’t need to go through it alone.