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Legal Information: North Carolina

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of December 22, 2023

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)