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Spousal Abuse

Spousal abuse is a form of domestic violence that under North Carolina law is a crime that is taken very seriously regardless of gender. If police respond to a call involving domestic violence, they are required to submit a police report, and if there is probable cause they can arrest the perpetrator of the crime and recommend either felony or misdemeanor prosecution. Once charges have been made for domestic abuse, only the district attorney's office can make the decision to drop the charges. It is a rare occurrence that the charges are dropped, and the case typically proceeds to trial, letting the court decide the outcome.

In recent years the penalties for spousal abuse have been increasingly stringent, often vigorously prosecuting first time offenders who at a minimum can expect some jail time along with the requirement to complete a counseling program. This counseling is designed to help individuals understand and change their violent behavior. If drugs or alcohol are involved there may be a requirement for the individual convicted of domestic abuse to attend a recovery program.

Domestic violence can take a number of forms, including:

  • Physical behavior (slapping, punching, pulling hair or shoving).
  • Forced or coerced sexual acts or behavior (unwanted fondling or intercourse, or sexual jokes and insults).
  • Threats (threatening to hit, harm or use a weapon).
  • Psychological abuse (attacks on self-esteem, attempts to control or limit another person's behavior, repeated insults or interrogation).
  • Stalking (following a person, appearing at a person's home or workplace, making repeated phone calls or leaving written messages).
  • Cyber stalking (repeated online action or email that causes substantial emotional distress).

Typically, many kinds of abuse go on at the same time in a household.

The most powerful legal tool for stopping domestic violence is the temporary restraining order. A victim of domestic violence or spousal abuse can apply for a restraining order under which the alleged abuser is prohibited from having any contact with the victim or the family, is not permitted to posses a weapon and must continue to obey any existing child custody / child support order and/or spousal support agreement.

Domestic violence orders may include:

  • Personal Conduct (Harassment, Violence, Contact) 
  • Stay Away Orders 
  • Move Out Orders 
  • Child Custody, Visitation, and Child Support 
  • Permitting Recording Of Restrained Communications 
  • Temporary Control Of Property 
  • Payment (by the other party) Of Debts
  • Property Restraint (against disposing of jointly-owned property) 
  • Payment Of Your Attorney Fees (if any) 
  • Payment Of Court Costs 
  • Orders Requiring The Other Party To Attend A Batterer's program
  • Orders Against Possession Of Firearms
  • Orders Against Ownership Of Firearms

If you feel that you are in danger from your partner or spouse you should call 911 immediately. The courts, the police, and your attorney will help you through the process to ensure that you and your family are safe and protected.

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Charles R. Ullman & Associates


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