Small Large
*For additional information regarding the criterion for inclusion or membership for lawyer associations, awards, & certifications click image for link.

What is the Law on Criminal Conversation?

If someone interfered with your marriage and had sex with your spouse, you may be able to sue for money damages. North Carolina allows lawsuits for “heart balm” cases: Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation. While related, they’re technically separate grounds to file suit. What is the law on criminal conversation? “Tort” law can be a bit complicated, so here goes:

Criminal Conversation lawsuits are normally brought by the innocent spouse against he guilty spouse’s lover. Heart balm cases have been challenged on legal issues involving:

  • Free Speech
  • Free Expression
  • Free Association
  • Substantive Due Process
  • North Carolina Land of the Law Clause

Claims for Criminal Conversation allow the plaintiff to seek compensatory relief for:

  • Out of Pocket Damages
  • Damages compensating any intentional infliction of emotional distress
  • Punitive Damages for malicious conduct

Punitive damages claims routinely accompany heart balm cases. NC Courts often play an important role in enforcing and collecting punitive damages in Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation cases.

The purpose of punitive damages is to:

Punish a defendant for egregiously wrongful acts and to deter the defendant and others from committing similar wrongful acts – N.C. Gen. Stat. Sect. 1D-1

CLICK HERE: What are PUNITIVE DAMAGES in North Carolina

Punitive damages are allowed in common law actions. The torts of Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation are common law actions in NC.

Infidelity
  1. Punitive damages may be awarded only if the claimant proves that the defendant is liable for compensatory damages and that one of the following aggravating factors was present and was related to the injury for which compensatory damages were awarded:
    1. Fraud
    2. Malice
    3. Willful or wanton conduct
  2. The claimant must prove the existence of an aggravating factor by clear and convincing evidence.
What is Alienation of Affection in North Carolina?
  1. That plaintiff and the plaintiff’s spouse were happily married, and that a genuine love and affection existed between them;
  2. That the love and affection so existing was alienated and destroyed;
  3. That the wrongful and malicious acts of defendant produced and brought about the loss and alienation of such love and affection.

Hankins v. Hankins, 202 N.C. 358 (1932). An action for alienation of affections is comprised of wrongful acts which are said to deprive a married person of the affections of his or her spouse, including love, society, companionship and comfort.

What is Criminal Conversation in North Carolina?

The term “adultery” is synonymous with “criminal conversation.” The basis for a cause of action and lawsuit in NC is the right of exclusive sexual intercourse between spouses. To prove Criminal Conversation in court there are two, general, requirements:

  1. The actual marriage between the spouses;
  2. Sexual intercourse between the defendant and plaintiff’s spouse.
Are there exceptions to the Criminal Conversation laws?

There cannot be a lawsuit for Alienation of Affection or Criminal Conversation that occurs AFTER the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s spouse PHYSICALLY SEPARATE with the intent by either party that the physical separation remain permanent.

DOWNLOAD HERE: North Carolina Marriage Laws Criminal Conversation Alienation of Affection Permanent Separation

There is a Statute of Limitations in North Carolina involving heart balm cases. All lawsuits for both criminal conversation and alienation of affection must be commenced within 3 YEARS from the last act of the defendant giving rise to the claim. Another oddity: Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation lawsuits can only be brought in North Carolina “against a natural person only.” A natural person is a person that is an individual human being, as opposed to a business entity or non-governmental organization or government body.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ALIMONY IN NORTH CAROLINA: Click Here – New Taxes Will Change Alimony in a BIG WAY

CALL NOW, we’re here to help: (704)-342-HELP or (704)-342-4357

Client Reviews
★★★★★
I am so fortunate to have had Bill Powers on my case. Upon our first meeting, Bill insisted that through the emotions of anger, sadness, confusion, and betrayal that I remain resilient. He was available to answer questions with researched, logical, truthful answers throughout our two year stretch together. I went to any lengths for my case because he won my trust almost immediately... J.R.
★★★★★
My daughter had a second DUI and when it all seemed hopeless, Bill was able to get the charges dropped. This is a man who is extremely knowledgeable, yet still keeps his integrity which was impressive to me. He handles himself with dignity. If you hire him, you will have the best of the best, along with his expansive intellect and wisdom about the law. Lisa
★★★★★
Bill Powers’ staff has handled several traffic citations for me over the years, and they exceeded my expectations each and every time. Would highly recommend anyone faced with a traffic citation or court case contact his office and they will handle it from there. M.C.
★★★★★
Bill and his staff are flat out great. I (unfortunately) was a repeat customer after a string of tickets. These guys not only took care of the initial ticket for me, but went the extra mile and reduced my problems from 3 to just 1 (very minor one) on the same day I called back! I would recommend them to anyone. A.R.