Restraining orders are documents issued by a judge prohibiting another person from harming you. They are designed to provide victims with protection from violence and fear. In North Carolina, there are two types of restraining orders. Domestic Violence Protective Orders (50B) protect you from harm by someone with whom you have or have had a personal relationship. Civil No-Contact Orders (50C) provide protection from unwanted sexual conduct or stalking by someone with whom you do not have a personal relationship (such as a neighbor, co-worker, or stranger).
Determine what type of restraining order you need. You are eligible for a Domestic Violence Protective Order if you have or have had a familial or close personal (such as dating) relationship with the alleged abuser. Domestic abuse is defined as any attempted or actual physical harm, or placement in fear or danger of "imminent, serious" bodily injury, harassment which inflicts "substantial emotional distress," or any incidence of rape or sexual assault or abuse. You are eligible for a Civil No-Contact Order of protection from a stranger or acquaintance who has attempted any nonconsensual sexual conduct, or stalking which has caused you emotional anxiety or fear for your safety.
Go to your court, or the court where the alleged abuser lives or works. If the court is closed and you are in immediate danger, go to the magistrate's office. Complete, notarize, and file the appropriate forms with the county clerk. The clerk will give your request to a judge, who will determine whether to grant you an "ex parte" restraining order to protect you until your hearing. If this is granted, keep a copy of it on your person at all times. These temporary restraining orders protect you for only 10 days.
Take the forms to the sheriff's office, who will serve the restraining order to the defendant for you. You will need to provide contact information for the defendant, along with a photo or physical description. The sheriff will serve the notice of hearing instructing the defendant when and where to appear in court. The defendant can file a written answer with the court to respond (within 10 days of service) to the allegations of harassment.
If you are applying for a Domestic Violence Protective Order, at the hearing you must prove the defendant has committed acts of illegal domestic violence against you. If the judge determines domestic violence has taken place, he or she is required to grant your DVPO. For both Domestic Violence and Civil No-Contact Orders, bring to court any evidence you may have to support your case, such as police or medical records, photographs, or witnesses.
If your protective order is granted, it will be valid for up to one year. Keep a copy of it on your person at all times.