Violence, sexual assault, stalking, and harassment are a nightmare, and those who live under the threat of a person who has committed these acts need help to protect themselves. Beyond help from law enforcement, there are civil orders that can provide legal protection and restrain perpetrators from continuing their misconduct. These are Domestic Violence Protective Orders (DVPO) and Civil No Contact Orders. The two are different, and even if you don’t qualify for one, the other might apply to your circumstances.
Civil No Contact Order
A civil no contact order is a restraining order that can be obtained by a victim against a perpetrator of unlawful conduct. This unlawful conduct includes stalking, non-consensual sexual conduct, acts that would make a reasonable person fear for his or her safety, as well as the safety of family members, and acts that intentionally cause a victim to suffer substantial emotional distress due to the fear of death, bodily injury or continued harassment. Upon finding that a perpetrator has committed unlawful conduct, a court can bar a perpetrator from visiting, stalking, harassing, interfering, assaulting, abusing, contacting, or entering specific locations where the victim is present.
A perpetrator can be held in contempt if he or she violates the court’s no contact order. Unlike a DVPO, the perpetrator cannot be arrested for a criminal offense based upon a violation of the order. A civil no contact order may be granted for up to one year from the date of the trial. It may also be extended one or more times for good cause.
Is There a “Personal Relationship”?
The critical question when determining whether a civil no contact order or a domestic violence protective order is more appropriate for your protection, is whether you have or had a personal relationship with the person you seek to restrain. A no contact order can only be obtained if a personal relationship does not, or did not exist. If a personal relationship existed, then a DVPO is your only option.
Under the North Carolina statutes, personal relationships include past or present: (1) marital relationships; (2) cohabitants or household members; (3) parent-child relationship; (4) grandparent-grandchild relationship; (5) co-parents; or (6) dating partners. A dating relationship means an ongoing, continued one and doesn’t include a one time date or acquaintance.
In other words, a civil no contact order applies to a stranger, acquaintance, co-worker, Tinder date, or other person with whom you don’t have a “personal relationship” as defined above. Instead, if you have a personal relationship, then you should consult with an attorney about a DVPO instead.
New Direction Family Law
Violence, stalking, and harassment should not be tolerated. If you are the victim of this behavior, seek help. If you have been the victim of violence, stalking, or harassment in the course of your marriage, an attorney can help you obtain emergency orders for your safety and your children’s safety. New Direction Family Law provides legal guidance and representation to people seeking to resolve the end of their marriages. The safety of our clients is our first priority and we will take the necessary steps to help you. Our office serves clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Call New Direction Family Law today at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation, or contact us at our website.
Carly G. Baker
New Direction Family Law