A Domestic Violence Protective Order or (Restraining Order), often called a “DVPO” or a “50B order,” is a court order that requires a perpetrator of domestic violence to stay away from the victim. Law enforcement can arrest the perpetrator on the spot for violating the order. In North Carolina, a “permanent” DVPO can last for up to one year, but can be renewed for up to two years at a time.

A DVPO is not a criminal conviction and does not appear on the defendant's criminal record. However, all documents filed in the case are public record. A defendant can be arrested and criminally charged for violating a DVPO.

Anyone living in North Carolina, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, can file for a DVPO.

You can file for a DVPO against anyone with whom you have one of the following relationships: spouse or ex-spouse; a person who currently or previously lived with you or in the same household as you; a person with whom you have a child; a person of the opposite sex with whom you have had a dating relationship; or a parent, child, grandparent, or grandchild.

In order to get a DVPO, the plaintiff needs to show that the defendant committed an act of domestic violence as defined by North Carolina law. The law provides for a judge to give a DVPO if the defendant intentionally committed one of the following acts against the plaintiff or a child in the plaintiff's custody:

  1. Causing or attempting to cause physical injury.
  2. Placing in fear of “imminent serious bodily injury” (for instance, by pointing a gun).
  3. Continued harassment, by committing at least two wrongful acts against the plaintiff with no legitimate purpose, and which causes “substantial emotional distress” (for instance, by calling 50 times per day, causing the victim significant fear and anxiety).
  4. Sexual assault.

Local domestic violence agencies assist victims in filing for DVPOs. In some counties, victims can file from the agency's offices without needing to go to court. In these counties, victims have a videoconference with a judge. In other counties, victims begin the process by visiting the clerk of court's office at their local courthouse to ask for the DVPO paperwork.

Some counties allow magistrates to grant emergency DVPOs outside of business hours, but others only grant DVPOs on business days when the courthouse is open. Your local domestic violence agency can give you more information about your county's process.

For more information please go to the North Carolina Judicial Branch website. https://www.nccourts.gov/help-topics/domestic-violence/how-to-get-a-protection-order