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Legal Information: North Carolina

Restraining Orders

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December 22, 2023

Can the abuser have a gun?

Once you get a protection order, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession.  There are a few places where you can find this information:

  • first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in North Carolina have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
  • second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
  • third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.

You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website

What 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 Safety Planning or click the tab on the top of this page.

Can I modify or extend my order?

To change (modify) your order or extend your order, go back to the court where you got it and file a petition with the clerk. The judge can modify an order after a hearing is held if there is “good cause” to do so.1

To extend your order, you must file the petition before your order expires. A judge can extend/renew your order if there is “good cause” to do so. There does not have to be a new act of domestic violence for the judge to renew the order. It can be renewed for up to two years and you can get the order renewed more than once. However, if you were granted temporary custody as part of your original protective order, this cannot be renewed/extended because this temporary custody can only last for a one-year period.2

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

1 NCGS § 50B-3(b2)
2 NCGS § 50B-3(b)


What happens if the abuser violates the order?

Violating a DVPO is against the law. There are three 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 guilty of a class A1 misdemeanor, which can be punished by jail for up to 150 days, depending on the defendant’s criminal record, and a fine in an amount determined by the judge.1
  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.1
  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.2 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.

1 NCGS §§ 50B-4.1; 15A-1340.23
2 NCGS § 50B-4(a)

What 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.

If I get a protection order, will it show up in an internet search?

According to federal law, which applies to all states, territories, and tribal lands, the courts are not supposed to make available publicly on the internet any information that would be likely to reveal your identity or location. This applies to all of these documents:

  • the petition you file;
  • the protection order, restraining order, or injunction that was issued by the court; or
  • the registration of an order in a different state.1

1 18 USC § 2265(d)(3)