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New NC Law: Permanent No-Contact Orders For Victims of Sexual Assault

Although there are civil domestic violence protective orders and no-contact orders, NC has only recently created the third type of civil order of this nature, a permanent no contact order for sexual assault victims (NCSAV). All portions of this law, Session Law 2015-91, will be effective by December 1, 2015. A permanent NCSAV may be obtained when there is a conviction of certain sexual offenses specified by the NC General Statutes against a victim that occurred in NC.

An adult may seek a NCSAV on behalf of a victim who has been declared incompetent, or a victim who is minor child (under age 18).  A NCSAV is permanent, and it remains in effect until the death of the defendant. This civil remedy is available only if the victim did not seek a NCSAV in the criminal case. The new law allows the victim to seek the NCSAV when there are “reasonable grounds exist for the victim to fear future contact” with the defendant. The filing fees paid to the court are waived. The evidence rules generally prohibit the defendant from questioning the victim about her prior sexual activity or reputation of the victim, although there are some exceptions. The judge can order the defendant:

  1. Not to contact the victim by phone, written communication, or electronic means.
  2. Not threaten, visit, assault, molest, harass, abuse, injure or otherwise interfere with the victim, including the victim’s place of employment.
  3. Not follow the victim, including at his or her workplace.
  4. Not enter or remain at the victim’s residence, school, place of employment, or other specified places at times when the victim is present.
  5.  The law specifically adds a “catch-all” remedy for a judge to deal with a case as he or she sees fit, giving the authority to “order other relief deemed necessary and appropriate by the court.”

All state law enforcement agencies must enforce NCSAVs by arresting the defendant without a warrant where there is probable cause to believe the defendant knowingly violated the order. NCSAVs may be enforced by contempt powers of the court, which includes the possibility of incarceration, as well as through the criminal system as a Class A-1 misdemeanor.

Amy A. Edwards is a family law attorney in Greenville, NC, certified by the NC State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Family Law Specialist, and is licensed only in NC. Laws change.  This article is current as of September 2015.  www.AmyEdwardsFamilyLaw.com  © 2015.

 

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