In the heat of the moment, a loved one, including a spouse, child or person you are dating, may make an accusation of violence against you. Once the police become involved, your life could change dramatically. A misunderstanding or exaggeration could define the rest of your life when it involves abuse of a family member.
North Carolina takes allegations of domestic violence very seriously. If you currently face these charges, you probably already spent a night in jail as a “cooling off” period. Do not take these charges lightly. You need an experienced domestic violence defense attorney who can fight the accusations and seek to have the charges reduced or dismissed. Your attorney should be there to advise you on all matters including any hearings related to a domestic violence protective order, commonly referred to as a DVPO.
Raleigh Domestic Violence Lawyer
At Coolidge Law Firm, we represent people who have been accused of abuse or violence against loved ones. If you face charges of assault and battery, child abuse or any other offense, a Raleigh domestic violence lawyer from Coolidge Law Firm can defend your rights during any questioning by police, in court, and in any associated protective order hearings. We are experienced criminal trial attorneys who handle domestic violence matters every day
We will develop a strategy for your defense, whether that involves negotiating a plea bargain or fighting the charges. Call us today at (919) 239-8448 to schedule a free consultation.
We represent the accused in Wake County, including Raleigh, Apex, Rolesville, Garner, Wake Forest, Fuquay-Varina and Knightdale.
Information on Family Abuse Charges
- How Domestic Violence is Defined
- Can the Victim Drop Charges?
- Wake County Domestic Violence Court
- 50B Protective Order Under North Carolina Law
- Penalties and Batterer Intervention
A number of different criminal charges may be designated as domestic violence if the accused and the victim have one of several relationships under N.C.G.S. § 50B-1. Those relationships can include if the victim is:
- The accused’s spouse
- The accused’s former spouse
- A child or grandchild of the defendant
- A parent or grandparent of the defendant
- A person of the opposite sex that the accused lives with or has lived with
- Someone with whom the accused has a child
- The accused’s boyfriend or girlfriend
- The accused’s ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend
- A current or former household member of the accused
Despite reference to “the opposite sex” in the state statute, prosecutors may bring charges against people accused of assaulting or abusing spouses and partners of the same sex. Both men and women may be accused of domestic violence.
If the victim and the accused share a relationship described, the defendant faces domestic violence charges if he or she is accused of:
- Attempting to cause or intentionally causing bodily injury
- Placing the victim or a member of the victim’s family in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or harassment that inflicts substantial emotional distress
- Committing one of several charges involving sexual assault
Some of the criminal charges designated as domestic violence include:
- Assault by strangulation
- Assault on a female
- Assault with a deadly Weapon
- Domestic abuse, neglect and exploitation of disabled or elder adults
- Child abuse
- Harassment by repeated telephoning
- Sexual Offense
- Sexual Battery
In some cases, the person who called to complain about the alleged domestic violence later regrets the decision. Domestic violence complaints often result from very heated family disputes. In such situations, even otherwise honest people can make exaggerated or even fabricated claims.
Once a spouse or loved one calls the police, though, there is usually no going back. They cannot “unring” the bell. The Wake County District Attorney has a “no drop” policy for family abuse cases. This means prosecutors will not drop charges upon the victim requesting to withdraw his or her complaint.
This makes it especially imperative for those accused to immediately seek defense counsel. In all likelihood, they will be prosecuted.
Most domestic abuse cases are misdemeanors. The Wake County District Attorney’s Office prosecutes all Misdemeanor DV charges in a separate courtroom at the Wake County Justice Center. A specially trained prosecutorial unit handles these cases and often works with specialized units at the Raleigh Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies.
Felony charges are tried in Superior Court. Felony domestic violence charges include: Assaults involving strangulation, serious injury, or a weapon. Other offenses include rape, kidnapping, or unlawful restraint.
Under North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 50B, a person who has been the victim of domestic violence may seek a protective order to prevent future abuse. These are often called “restraining orders.” The order will have a profound effect on the life of the accused.
A protective order can:
- Prohibit any communication between the accused and the victim;
- Require the accused to pay for housing for the victim;
- Give the victim sole possession of the home, and evict the accused;
- Give the victim possession of personal property;
- Grant custody of children to the victim or to a person other than the accused;
- Require the accused to pay child support;
- Require the accused to pay spousal support;
- Award attorney’s fees;
- Prohibit the accused from carrying a firearm; and
- Order any other action to protect the safety and health of the victim or any children involved.
When a person reports domestic violence, he or she may seek an emergency order. A judge or magistrate may grant the order “ex parte,” meaning the accused does not have an opportunity to be represented in the hearing. The judge or magistrate will grant the order if he or she finds that the person complaining or a minor child is in danger of violent acts.
However, within 10 days of the order or within seven days of the accused being served, whichever is later, the judge or magistrate must order a hearing. At the hearing, the person facing the order can be represented by an attorney. His or her attorney can present the other side of the story and argue that the evidence presented by the petitioner does not sufficiently satisfy the requirements for the protective order to remain in place. The attorney can also show why the stringent prohibitions and drastic orders should not apply in a particular circumstance.
Once granted, a domestic violence protective order (DVPO) remains in place for one year, at which time the victim may request a new one. Violation of any of the order’s conditions can result in criminal charges.
Protective order hearings are actually a civil matter. However, a criminal defense lawyer from Coolidge Law Firm can represent you, both in the DVPO hearings and in any related criminal proceedings.
If convicted, penalties will depend upon the charge. North Carolina uses a structured sentencing scheme in which punishment, like time in jail or prison or probation, depends upon the class of felony or misdemeanor, the accused’s criminal record and whether there were aggravating or mitigating factors involved.
A person convicted of any domestic violence offense — even a misdemeanor — will permanently lose his or her right to carry a firearm under federal law.
A person convicted of a domestic violence offense may also be required to complete a batterer intervention course. The batterer intervention course is a 26-week program. If a person fails to complete or gets terminated from the program, the administrators will report that fact to the court.
These are far from the only consequences that you may suffer if convicted of a domestic violence offense. A conviction for any type of child abuse can result in the inability to work with children. A spousal abuse charge may have a powerful effect on personal relationships in the future. It is important to take any domestic violence charge very seriously.
Finding the Best Domestic Abuse Attorney in Wake County
If you face any type of charge involving an act of abuse or violence against a family member, it is imperative that you act today. Contact a skilled attorney at Coolidge Law Firm so we can begin developing a strategy for your defense.
Reach us at (919) 239-8448 to schedule a free consultation. We represent clients throughout Wake County, including Raleigh, Cary, Zebulon, Holly Springs, Wendell and Morrisville. We’ve successfully defended numerous people that found themselves in situation just like you. Call us now!