In North Carolina, people who are in a personal relationship can apply for a protective order under chapter 50B of the statutes called domestic violence protective orders. This amounts to an Order of the court that directs the defendant to refrain from certain acts, excludes them from physical locations such as a residence, and awards temporary custody of minor children to the nonoffending party. However, the 50B actions are only applicable to parties that are in a personal relationship, meaning spouses and former spouses, dating partners, current and former household members, parents, and a few other categories. The common thread is that there is personal and private history between the parties.
But also available is an action under 50C. This is the no-contact order. It does not have the same requirements for personal relationship that the 50B requires. This means, in the family law context, that a belligerent new romantic partner could be a party to a 50C action. For the no-contact 50C to be granted, the unlawful conduct of the defendant must fall into two categories: either nonconsensual sexual conduct or stalking. As defined by statute, stalking is when the accused follows or harasses a person more than once, with the intent to place that person or that person’s close associates in reasonable fear, and/or cause that person to suffer substantial emotional distress through fear. In this context, “harass” means conduct directed at a person to torment, terrorize, or terrify that person without legitimate purpose.
A 50C can grant relief such as ordering a defendant: not to visit or interfere with the applicant; to cease stalking and/or harassment; to cut off contact by phone, mail, email/text, or other electronic means; and to order that defendant cannot be present around certain locations if the applicant would be present. There are many factors involved in harassment, such as the occasions and the fears of the applicant. Furthermore, intent plays a large role in 50C actions. In some cases, it is the intent that directly controls whether the 50C is granted. Sometimes intent can be inferred from the acts committed. But regardless, our Courts must find that there was a specific intent in each and every 50C order. These orders can be extended for quite some time as well. 50C cases have the ability to become complex, so contact your attorney if you are facing, or considering, a 50C.