In the US, between one and three million people experience an incidence of domestic violence every year. Although the victims are primarily women, a significant number of men experience domestic violence as well, and it cuts across class, race, and other groups of people. North Carolina saw more than 16,000 individuals sent to an emergency shelter. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that twenty people are assaulted every minute by someone with whom they have an intimate and/or familial relationship. These numbers are just the cases that are reported, because there are many more cases that are not.
What Is Domestic Violence?
North Carolina defines it as committing an act against another person with whom the offender has or had a personal relationship, or the child of that person:
- Attempting to or intentionally causing bodily injury
- Giving a victim the fear of imminent danger or bodily injury and/or continual harassment to the point of causing great emotional distress
- Sex crimes such as:
- Rape, 1st or 2nd degree
- Sexual battery
- Sex crimes against children, including statutory rape
North Carolina has expanded the law to include dating relationships as well.
Many of these crimes are already covered by other statutes, and are prosecuted that way. However, when they are suitable for domestic violence cases, judges have additional options for conditions of probation including medical or psychiatric treatments, drug or alcohol treatments and house arrest with limitations.
Civil And Criminal
Although domestic violence is part of civil law, criminal charges can also be levied. In a domestic violence case where an assault was committed, the perpetrator will be prosecuted for assault. A case that involved rape or a similar charge would be prosecuted as a sex crimes case.
Victims also have civil remedies available to them, such as concealing their addresses from the defendant. Additionally, a victim can file a civil suit against the defendant similar to a personal injury lawsuit to recover medical expenses, damages, lost wages and pain and suffering. Child custody and alimony orders may also be modified after charges and/or a conviction.
A person who is in fear of an incident of domestic violence against themselves and/or their children can request an emergency protective order (sometimes called a “restraining order”) that issues a range of conditions against the defendant. These conditions can include orders of no contact, prohibit him or her from being in or near the home, award temporary child custody, visitation, and child support payments, as well as prohibit further harassment or abuse of the individual, any children, as well as any pets.
Protective orders can be valid for a year, but the party who filed for the order can also request an extension of up to two years.
Violations of these orders can range from misdemeanor charges to felony charges, depending on what a defendant does in the process. If he or she commits a felony while violating a protective order, they will be charged one level higher. Police will not need to obtain an arrest warrant under the circumstances.
False Charges Of Domestic Violence
Despite the statistics, there are cases where domestic violence charges are false, particularly against spouses in the middle of divorce proceedings.
If this is the case, your divorce attorney may offer to handle it for you. However, it’s better to have a criminal defense attorney handle it instead, since a divorce attorney concentrates on family matters. Gather up any evidence for your case, especially written and electronic communications, witness statements and other proof of your innocence to give to your criminal defense attorney to build your case.
Domestic Violence Is A Serious Charge
If you’ve been charged with any form of domestic violence, you must have a strong defense when going to trial. Without it, you could be facing jail time.
Dewey P. Brinkley is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Raleigh, NC who can defend you against charges of domestic violence. Call the law offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your criminal defense case at (919) 832-0307. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use our online contact form.