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Know the Laws: North Carolina

UPDATED August 17, 2016

Domestic Violence Protective Orders ("50B orders")

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A domestic violence protective order is a civil order that provides protection from someone with whom you have/had a "personal relationship."

After the hearing

back to topWhat should I do when I leave the courthouse?

Here are some things you may want to consider doing. However, you will have to evaluate each one to see if it works for your situation.

  • Review the order before you leave the courthouse. If you have any questions about it, be sure to ask the clerk.
  • Make several copies of the DVPO as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the DVPO with you at all times.
  • Leave copies of the DVPO at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on. The sheriff may deliver a copy of the order to the children’s school if the defendant has been ordered to stay away from the school but you may want to give one to the school to be sure.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work. You may also want to give them a photo of the defendant.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local law enforcement agency, take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them.
  • You may wish to consider changing your locks (if permitted by law) and your phone number.

You may also wish to make a safety plan. People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school. Many batterers obey protective orders, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe. Click on the following link for suggestions on Staying Safe or click the tab on the top of this page.

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back to topHow do I make sure that the domestic violence protective order is enforced?

Violating a DVPO is against the law. There are 3 ways to get help if the abuser violates the DVPO.

  1. Through the Police or Sheriff (Criminal)
    If the defendant violates the DVPO, you have the option of calling 911 immediately. In some cases, the defendant can be arrested right away. Tell the officers you have a DVPO and the defendant is violating it. Be prepared to show the officer a copy of your order. If the defendant is arrested, then the district attorney can prosecute the abuser because it is a crime to violate a DVPO. If found guilty of a violation of a DVPO, the defendant can be put in jail for up to 150 days depending on the defendant’s criminal record.*
  2. Through the Magistrate's Office (Criminal)
    If the officers do not arrest the defendant immediately, you may contact the magistrate's office to ask for a criminal "warrant" for violation of the DVPO. The warrant tells the police to arrest the abuser. Then, the district attorney can prosecute the abuser. If found guilty, the abuser can be put in jail for up to 150 days depending on the defendant’s prior criminal record.*
  3. Through the Civil Court System (Civil)
    You may file for civil contempt for a violation of the order. The abuser is in "civil contempt" if he or she does anything that your DVPO orders him or her not to do. To file for civil contempt, go to the clerk's office and ask for a "motion for order to show cause" in a DVPO.**   If the court finds that the defendant is in contempt, the defendant may be ordered to pay a fine and/or be sentenced to jail time.

NOTE: If you take out a criminal warrant through the magistrate's office and contempt papers through the civil court system based on the same events, contact the district attorney's office before either hearing to discuss punishment options.

* NCGS § 50B-4.1
** NCGS § 50B-4(a)

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back to topHow do I extend my order?

To modify or change your order, go back to the court where you got it and file a petition with the clerk. You can then ask the judge to extend/renew your order for up to two years at a time with the exception of custody provisions which can only last for up to one year.*

It is often helpful to request this renewal at least 30 days before your order expires to make sure there is adequate time for a hearing to be scheduled and conducted. 

Note: You may also have your order renewed more than once.

* NCGS § 50B-3(b)


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back to topWhat happens if I move?

If you move within North Carolina or to any other state in the U.S., your order will still be valid and good.

Federal law provides what is called "full faith and credit," which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. territories and tribal lands.  Different states have different rules for enforcing out-of-state protection orders. For example, some states require you to register your order in the new state. You can find out about your state’s policies by contacting a domestic violence program, the clerk of courts, or the prosecutor in your area.

To read more about how to get your protective order enforced in another state, please see our Moving to Another State with a Protective Order page.  If you are moving to a new state, you may also call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111 x 2) for information on enforcing your order.


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