Restraining Orders

Restraining Orders

Domestic violence occurs in many forms. We are all familiar with domestic violence in the form of physical abuse against a spouse or significant other or child. The physical abuse could be sexual, hitting, slapping, choking or pushing. But domestic violence can include emotional abuse such as name-calling, put-downs and mind games. Threats, stalking and intimidation are also considered to be forms of domestic violence.

According to a survey done in 2006 by the Allstate Foundation almost three out of four Americans polled said they personally knew someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence and 30% of the Americans polled said they knew a woman who had been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past year.

Domestic violence is a serious problem and not limited to female victims; there are men who are victims of domestic abuse. Male victims of domestic abuse are much less likely to see themselves as victims of domestic violence and if they do acknowledge they are victims they are less likely to report an incident.

A study conducted in 2000, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Justice Department found 25 percent of women — one out of every four — said that they had been abused by a partner, compared to 7 percent of men. However, according to other statistics reported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics women reported domestic violence at a rate six times greater than men. Other studies have confirmed the finding that male victims of domestic abuse are much less likely to report domestic violence or even admit to being victims than women. The failure of men to be comfortable reporting domestic violence renders most reported domestic violence statistics for abuses committed by women against male victims relatively unreliable.

There is a 2006 report issued by researchers at Southern Methodist University which showed that women commit domestic violence against men 33% more often than men do against women and commit serious acts of domestic violence twice as often as men. Survey results reporting the incidence of women perpetrators of domestic violence against men vary depending on how the question is asked, the definition of abuse or domestic violence used in the survey, and the willingness of the victims to answer the questions posed by the survey honestly.

According to a 2004 report issued by the National Network to End Domestic Violence almost 2.2 million people called domestic violence hotlines in 2004 to seek help or advice for themselves or someone else. If you are a victim of domestic violence there are a number of domestic violence hotlines to help you get out of a violent relationship. Don’t hesitate to seek help. Call a local domestic violence assistance agency and call us to help you seek legal protection from the abuser.

Interact is a not-for-profit active in North Carolina that provides support to those who are victims of domestic abuse. You can find out more about the support services offered by Interact at www.interactofwake.org as well as the numbers for the twenty-four hour hotlines the agency operates.

If you are a victim you should immediately hire an experienced attorney. Hopkins Law Firms, PC can begin the legal process to obtain domestic violence restraining orders or protective orders (DVPO). A DVPO is a civil order prohibiting the alleged abuser from continuing to abuse or harass you or your family. If violated, a DPVO can result in criminal charges classified as a misdemeanor and punishable with up to one-hundred-fifty days in jail. The court can also issue orders as part of the DVPO process giving the aggrieved party possession of the residence and excluding the aggressor from the home. The judge may also establish support payments for the children and/or the spouse and provide for possession of personal property as part of a DVPO order. At its discretion the court may award temporary child custody and provide for visitation. A custody order obtained through the DVPO process is only valid for one year can be reviewed and overridden by subsequent family court orders.

It is important to remember DVPO’s will expire at the end of the fixed period established by the judge in the order, and this period may not exceed one year in North Carolina. After the one-year period you may request renewal of your order for another year. The domestic violence statute provides copies of the order must be issued to each party as well as the police or sheriff’s department in the county where the aggrieved party resides. You or your attorneys are responsible for ensuring the appropriate documents are delivered to the proper law enforcement offices.

The legal elements of domestic violence as defined by statute in North Carolina are the attempt to cause bodily injury, or intentionally causing bodily injury; or placing an aggrieved party or a member of the aggrieved party’s family or household in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or continued harassment that rises to such a level as to inflict substantial emotional distress; or committing any act defined as a sexual offense or rape in the North Carolina General Statutes. To fall under the domestic violence statutes the offense must be committed by a spouse or former spouse of person of the opposite sex who have lived with the victim; or related to the victim or current or former household members; or persons who are in a dating relationship or have a child in common.

Unfortunately some parents involved in child custody battles try to use the DVPO’s to get a “fast or expedited” custody order. A temporary custody order through the normal domestic court process might take as long as 45 days to obtain. While the court backlog is regrettable this inappropriate use of the DVPO process can result in tragic and unfortunate results. If you believe you are the victim of an inappropriate DVPO process do not wait to hire Raleigh Law Center  to represent you in these proceedings. Our experienced attorneys can help protect you and your children from an inappropriate use of the DVPO orders to establish temporary custody.

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