Spousal abuse is a form of domestic violence that under North
Carolina law is a crime that is taken very seriously regardless of
gender. If police respond to a call involving domestic violence,
they are required to submit a police report, and if there is
probable cause they can arrest the perpetrator of the crime and
recommend either felony or misdemeanor prosecution. Once charges
have been made for domestic abuse, only the district attorney's
office can make the decision to drop the charges. It is a rare
occurrence that the charges are dropped, and the case typically
proceeds to trial, letting the court decide the outcome.
In recent years the penalties for spousal abuse have been
increasingly stringent, often vigorously prosecuting first time
offenders who at a minimum can expect some jail time along with
the requirement to complete a counseling program. This counseling
is designed to help individuals understand and change their
violent behavior. If drugs or alcohol are involved there may be a
requirement for the individual convicted of domestic abuse to
attend a recovery program.
Domestic violence can take a number of forms, including:
- Physical behavior (slapping, punching, pulling hair
- Forced or coerced sexual acts or behavior (unwanted
fondling or intercourse, or sexual jokes and insults).
- Threats (threatening to hit, harm or use a weapon).
- Psychological abuse (attacks on self-esteem, attempts to
control or limit another person's behavior, repeated insults
- Stalking (following a person, appearing at a person's
home or workplace, making repeated phone calls or leaving
- Cyber stalking (repeated online action or email that
causes substantial emotional distress).
Typically, many kinds of abuse go on at the same time in a
The most powerful legal tool for stopping domestic violence is
the temporary restraining order. A victim of domestic violence or
spousal abuse can apply for a restraining order under which the
alleged abuser is prohibited from having any contact with the
victim or the family, is not permitted to posses a weapon and must
continue to obey any existing child custody /
child support order and/or
spousal support agreement.
Domestic violence orders may include:
- Personal Conduct (Harassment, Violence, Contact)
- Stay Away Orders
- Move Out Orders
- Child Custody, Visitation, and Child Support
- Permitting Recording Of Restrained Communications
- Temporary Control Of Property
- Payment (by the other party) Of Debts
- Property Restraint (against disposing of jointly-owned
- Payment Of Your Attorney Fees (if any)
- Payment Of Court Costs
- Orders Requiring The Other Party To Attend A Batterer's
- Orders Against Possession Of Firearms
- Orders Against Ownership Of Firearms
If you feel that you are in danger from your partner or spouse
you should call 911 immediately. The courts, the police, and your
attorney will help you through the process to ensure that you and
your family are safe and protected.
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