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Violating a domestic protection order

On Behalf of The Law Firm of Brent D. Ratchford |

When a family member or partner becomes abusive, it may be necessary to seek a domestic violence restraining order. The order issued by a judge could bar contact between the alleged abuser and the person seeking protection. Although the protection order might be entirely legal under North Carolina law, the accused abuser could violate it. Persons who ignore protection orders may soon find themselves in legal trouble.

The penalties for violating a domestic protection order

Under North Carolina law, a police officer may arrest someone who violates a restraining order. If the restraining order bans the person from coming within a specified distance from the victim’s home, any breach of that rule may support an arrest. Depending on the situation, the police might not need a warrant for the arrest.

Knowingly violating a protection order is a Class A1 misdemeanor in North Carolina. However, some circumstances could raise the offense’s category. If the accused commits a felony when violating the protection order, the person may face a felony charge “one class higher than the principal felony,” although some exclusions apply.

Defenses to violations of protection orders

Family and partner disputes could be bitter matters, and it is not uncommon for someone to make false claims of domestic violence. Even false claims about protection order violations may arise. If the accused can establish he or she did not violate the protection order, criminal charges may not stand.

The statute explicitly states a person must “knowingly” violate a protection order. Establishing reasonable doubt about whether the defendant knew he or she violated the order could serve as a credible defense strategy.

The statute also notes the police must have probable cause for an arrest. A lack of probable cause could lead to a dismissal.