Can I Get a Civil Restraining Order or No-Contact Order?
If you need protection against the abusive, stalking or harassing behaviors of a neighbor, co-worker, or third-party, North Carolina law can provide help to you and your family.
A civil no contact order, also known as a 50C, is designed to provide protection for victims against nonconsensual sexual conduct and stalking. To be granted a civil no contact order, the offender cannot have a personal relationship with the victim. A civil no contact order can be issued against strangers, neighbors, or acquaintances. The individual that you are seeking to have a no contact order entered against must be 16 years of age or older.
Understanding how NC law defines the behavior that supports a 50C is important prior to pursuing a restraining order. Nonconsensual sexual conduct as defined by the statute is intentional or knowing touching, fondling, or sexual penetration by a person, either directly or through clothing, of the sexual organs, anus, or breast of another, whether an adult or a minor, for the purpose of sexual gratification or arousal and without the consent of the victim. See N.C.G.S. 50C-1(3) and (4).
Stalking is defined by the statute as on more than one occasion, following or otherwise harassing another person without legal purpose with the intent to:
- place the person in reasonable fear either for the person’s safety or the safety of the person’s immediate family or close personal associates; or
- cause that person to suffer substantial emotional distress by placing that person in fear of death, bodily injury, or continued harassment and that in fact causes that person substantial emotional distress. See N.C.G.S 50C-1(6).
For a more in-depth definition of harassment, see N.C.G.S. 14-277.3A(b)(2).
If you are proceeding on the nonconsensual sexual conduct prong, you must provide the court with evidence to show that on at least one occasion the individual touched, fondled, or sexually penetrated you without your consent. Unlike the stalking prong, one incident is sufficient to have a civil no contact order entered. Things such as a witness testimony, your testimony, recording of the incident, and pictures of injuries caused by the nonconsensual sexual conduct can be used to prove to the court that the nonconsensual sexual conduct occurred.
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If you are proceeding on the stalking prong, you must provide the court with evidence to show that on multiple occasions the individual has either followed you or harassed you. This evidence can be testimony from a witness, testimony from you, a recording of your interactions with the individual, text messages, emails, etc. One occasion of following you or harassment will not be sufficient to have a civil no contact order granted, no matter how egregious the encounter is.
You will also need to provide the court with evidence of substantial emotional distress which is proven by showing you have suffered significant mental suffering or distress. While it is not required that your mental suffering or distress require medical or other professional treatment or counseling, if your mental suffering or distress does require such intervention, it will be significant evidence to show that you have suffered substantial emotional distress. If you don’t require medical or other professional treatment or counseling, providing evidence to the court of things such as a change in your normal routine or installing a security system due to the stalking can also help to prove that you have suffered substantial emotional distress.
A civil no contact order may be granted for no more than one year. In some instances the court may decide that one year is not needed and grant the no contact order for less than a year. If when your order expires you are still in need of the no contact order, you can file a motion requesting the renewal of the order prior to the expiration of the previous order.
When the court decides that a civil no contact order is appropriate based on the facts and evidence presented, it can grant the following forms of relief:
- Order the respondent not to visit, assault, molest, or otherwise interfere with the victim;
- Order the respondent to cease stalking the victim, including at the victim’s workplace;
- Order the respondent to cease harassment of the victim;
- Order the respondent not to abuse or injure the victim;
- Order the respondent not to contact the victim by telephone, written, communication, or electronic means;
- Order the respondent to refrain from entering or remaining present at the victim’s residence, school, place of employment, or other specified places at times when the victim is present; and
- Order other relief deemed necessary and appropriate by the court, including assessing attorney’s fees to either party.
Dealing with nonconsensual sexual conduct or stalking can be an overwhelming experience. If you would like help navigating obtaining a civil no contact order or have questions about whether a civil no contact order is right for your situation, contact the experienced attorneys at Batch, Poore, & Williams. We will be happy to assist you in obtaining your civil no contact order.