Legal Information: North Carolina

Restraining Orders

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February 14, 2022

How 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.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.

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.

1 NCGS § 50B-4.1
2 NCGS § 50B-4(a)

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