Domestic violence is a serious and complex issue that affects many families in Union County, North Carolina. Facing domestic violence charges can be emotionally and legally challenging, especially given the potential ramifications on both the criminal and civil fronts.
It makes sense to retain a law firm with substantial experience in both criminal defense and civil Domestic Violence (DV) law to navigate the intricacies of these cases effectively. That’s especially true if you’re married or have children in common.
A 50B / Domestic Violence Protective Order, or “DVPO,” can substantially affect your legal rights and have long-term consequences. They proceed at a rapid pace and often catch people by surprise.
The Court (the District Court Judge) may order things well beyond refraining from further acts of domestic violence. It may address temporary child custody, visitation, and support, spousal support, housing, disposition of personal property, pets in common, and other matters the judge deems necessary and appropriate.
In this blog post, we will discuss the differences and similarities between domestic violence allegations in criminal and civil court, the importance of hiring a lawyer early in the process, and the benefits of engaging a law firm with a proven track record.
Domestic Violence Charges: Criminal vs. Civil Court
Domestic violence charges regularly arise in two separate but related legal contexts: criminal court and civil court. Although there are similarities between the two, indeed the allegations are often predicated on the same fact pattern and/or allegations, the processes and outcomes from a criminal court conviction vs. a civil domestic violence ruling (Order of Protection) can be vastly different.
The standard of proof in criminal court is Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. The State (the prosecutor / Assistant District Attorney) carries the burden of proof and production in criminal court. The defendant cannot be called as a witness against themselves and carries no such burden of proof.
In a civil cause of action, the Plaintiff need only prove a single act of domestic violence to the legal standard by the greater weight of the evidence. In that instance, the Plaintiff may call the Defendant as a witness, which can substantially affect later criminal proceedings – Bill Powers, Union County NC Domestic Violence Lawyer
Imposition of a Domestic Violence Protective Order is not a criminal conviction. It is a type of civil restraining order. Violation of a DVPO can result in very serious additional criminal charges known as Violation of Valid Protective Order under N.C.G.S. § 50B-4.1.
Domestic violence charges in criminal court typically involve some kind of physical altercation or harm between two people who are intimate partners or family members. In such cases, prosecutors may choose to charge an individual with things such as assault, communicating threats, and injury to personal property.
We believe it is crucial to understand how each legal proceeding can impact the other to ensure you make the right decision(s) for you and your family.
In criminal court, domestic violence charges regularly involve allegations of assault, battery, or other violent acts committed by one family or household member against another. The allegations may also involve sexual battery and related felony or misdemeanor charges.
These cases are prosecuted by the State of North Carolina, through the Union County District Attorney’s Office. Depending on the nature and circumstances of the offense(s), the defendant, the person accused of criminal wrongdoing, can face severe consequences, including imprisonment, fines, probation, and mandatory counseling or treatment programs.
A conviction for a domestic violence offense can also result in a permanent criminal record, which can have lasting impacts on employment, housing, and other aspects of life.
Civil domestic violence cases typically involve motions for protective orders, a type of restraining order, filed by a victim against their alleged abuser. In North Carolina, they are formally known as a Complaint and Motion for Domestic Violence Protective Order or “DVPO.” In civil court, the victim may be referred to as the “aggrieved party.”
The statutory reference for Domestic Violence is N.C.G.S. Chapter 50B. Because of that, attorneys and court personnel often refer to such matters as “50B” complaints or orders, referring to the statutory number set forth by the General Assembly in Raleigh NC.
In civil court, these cases are not prosecuted by the State but are instead initiated by the person seeking protection. The “aggrieved party,” the alleged victim, may file for a protective order pro se or with the assistance of legal counsel.
Protective orders can include provisions to prohibit contact between the parties, temporary child custody arrangements, and other restrictions to protect the safety and well-being of the petitioner and their family. They’re taken seriously in Union County.
In my experience, lawyers who handle solely criminal charges sometimes fail to fully grasp the interaction between civil court and criminal court, especially in the context of separation, divorce, and child custody issues. Similarly, family law attorneys and those who only take on civil DV matters may fail to recognize the impact of the 50B hearing in a later criminal court trial. That’s one reason we think it helps to have legal counsel who handles civil, family law, and criminal matters – Bill Powers, Monroe NC Domestic Violence Attorney
In some cases, domestic violence allegations can lead to both criminal charges and civil protective order proceedings. In some instances, especially those involving children in common and/or marriage, N.C.G.S. 50B-2 authorizes relief pursuant to N.C.G.S. 50B – Domestic Violence in a pre-existing Chapter 50 proceeding. (Chapter 50 is the NC Divorce and Alimony Law).
This underscores the importance of hiring a law firm with substantial courtroom experience in criminal defense, Chapter 50B civil hearings, and family law, as they are equipped to handle the complexities that arise in such cases.
The Importance of Hiring a Lawyer Early in the Process
When facing domestic violence charges, we think one of the most critical decisions you can make is to hire a lawyer as soon as possible.
Early intervention by an experienced attorney can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. 50B hearings are set almost immediately on a calendar for disposition. There is very little time to prepare and the long-term effects of a DVPO can be devastating in certain circumstances – Bill Powers, Domestic Violence Lawyer Union County NC
Here are some reasons why hiring a lawyer early is essential:
- Developing a Defense Strategy: An experienced attorney will assess your case’s specific facts and circumstances and develop a comprehensive defense strategy tailored to your unique situation. This may include challenging the credibility of witnesses, presenting evidence that contradicts the allegations, or negotiating for reduced charges or alternative sentencing options.
- Protecting Your Rights: A knowledgeable lawyer can help protect your rights throughout the legal process. This includes ensuring that evidence is obtained and preserved properly, that law enforcement officers and prosecutors follow the appropriate procedures, and that potential violations of your rights are addressed promptly.
- Navigating the Legal System: The legal system can be complex and overwhelming, particularly for those unfamiliar with the intricacies of criminal, civil, and family law. An attorney can help guide you through the process, explain your options, and prepare you for each step along the way.
One of the most important aspects of legal representation involves asserting your right to remain silent. Before speaking with the police or cooperating in any way with a criminal investigation, it is advisable to consult with experienced legal counsel.
Union County Courthouse
The Union County Courthouse is located at 400 N Main Street, Monroe, NC 28112. It is referred to as Union County Judicial Center.
This courthouse is where both criminal and civil domestic violence cases are heard and should not be confused with the historic Union County Courthouse at North Main Street.
The telephone number for the Union County Clerk of Court is (704) 698-3100
If you are facing domestic violence charges or seeking a protective order, it is our considered opinion that it is imperative to have an attorney who is familiar with the Union County legal system and to represent your interests in court.
How a Multi-Practice Law Firm Can Help – Family Law, DVPO / 50B & Criminal Defense Attorneys
We believe working with a law firm with substantial courtroom experience in criminal defense, civil court, and family law is extremely helpful.
Hiring legal counsel that regularly represents people in both criminal court and civil court (50B Complaints and Motions) offers several advantages:
- Comprehensive Representation: A law firm with experience in both criminal defense and DVPO legal matters can provide comprehensive representation, addressing all aspects of your case. This means they can help handle the criminal charges you may be facing while also navigating the complexities of civil protective order proceedings.
- Coordinated Strategy: By having one law firm handle both the criminal and civil aspects of your case, you can ensure that the strategies employed in each area complement and support one another. This coordinated approach can help increase the likelihood of achieving a favorable outcome in both arenas.
- Familiarity with the Legal System: A law firm that helps clients with criminal defense and civil DV legal issues in Monroe NC will have an in-depth understanding of the intricacies of the Union County legal system. This level of experience can be invaluable in navigating the complexities of domestic violence cases and help ensure your rights are protected at every stage.
- Efficiency and Cost-Effectiveness: Retaining a single law firm with a proven track record handling both criminal and civil 50B proceedings can be more efficient and cost-effective than hiring separate attorneys for each aspect of your case. A single firm can streamline the process and ensure consistent communication, reducing the likelihood of missteps or delays that could harm your case.
Union County Domestic Violence Lawyers – Powers Law Firm PA
Domestic violence charges in Union County NC are often quite complex and have the potential to significantly impact your life.
Whether you are facing criminal charges or navigating civil protective order proceedings, hiring a law firm with substantial courtroom experience in criminal defense and domestic violence law makes sense.
Doing so can help ensure that your rights are protected, that your case is handled efficiently, and that you receive the comprehensive representation necessary for such complex and consequential legal matters.
If you or someone you know is facing domestic violence charges or seeking a protective order in Union County NC, please contact our law firm today to schedule a consultation.
Our team of experienced attorneys is well-equipped to handle criminal defense, civil 50B protective orders, and family law matters, ensuring that you receive the dedicated representation you need during this challenging time.
Don’t wait – the best time to hire a lawyer is now.
**The firm offers a complementary legal consultation for criminal charges. For matters involving separation, divorce, child custody, DVPO – 50B Protective Orders, and other family law related issues, the firm often charges both a consultation fee and hourly rates. Each case, like each person seeking legal help, is different. Some matters are purely criminal in nature, whereas others involve solely civil or family law issues, and others may be a blend of both criminal defense law and civil/family law legal issues. Prior to undertaking a matter for representation and speaking with an attorney, the firm regularly conducts a “conflict check” to confirm availability for legal representation. We will also explain the costs of representation/consultation, as appropriate.
Helpful Information About Domestic Violence in Union County NC
- What is Domestic Violence in Criminal Court?
- Domestic Violence, Assault and Battery
- How Police Conduct a Criminal Investigation Before Arrest
- Top 3 Things to Do if Arrested
- Burdens of Proof in Civil Court and Criminal Court
- Monroe NC Domestic Violence Lawyers
- What is Injury to Personal Property?
- What you need to know about Assault Inflicting Serious Bodily Injury and Strangulation
- What are “Domestic Violence Crimes” in North Carolina?