Domestic violence involves a lot more than physical injury. It also carries serious penalties with it in the state of North Carolina.
Unfortunately, it’s possible to be charged with this crime due to a mistake or a handful of other circumstances. No matter why you find yourself on the other side of the law, it’s important to know what you’re up against.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about the punishment for domestic violence in North Carolina.
What Exactly Is Domestic Violence?
Before we begin, it’s important to understand what domestic violence involves.
While most people assume this crime occurs when a couple gets into a physical altercation, and that’s true. But, that’s only one of the instances domestic violence laws come into play.
To be considered ‘domestic,’ the crime must take place between:
- Someone of the opposite sex who is living with you
- A current/former significant other/spouse
- A child of a parent in the household (this also extends to their live-in partner)
There are also multiple types of abuse, and it isn’t always physical.
Let’s dive in.
Rape is commonly thought of as the only form of sexual violence. But, the most common form is unwanted sexual behavior or sexual contact. Inappropriate touching, groping, etc. can all qualify as sexual violence.
This could also be preceded by physical violence that leads to unwanted sexual intercourse or contact.
Instilling fear through intimidation is often how psychological abuse occurs. But, manipulation also plays a role here. For example, an abuser who threatens to harm themselves if the other party contacts the police or their friends/family is psychologically abusing their victim.
Isolating the victim from their loved ones or destroying their property are also forms of psychological abuse.
As you may expect, domestic violence is most frequently physical.
Any form of physical striking, biting, scratching, etc. can be considered violent behavior. Interestingly, though, physical abuse could also involve forcing someone to consume drugs or alcohol.
It could also entail denying them medical treatment.
This type of abuse occurs when the victim is prevented from accessing their own finances or going to work. Any behavior that seeks to maliciously control another person through finances is economic abuse.
The Punishment For Domestic Violence
The punishment you could potentially face for this crime depends on whether you’re being charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
Misdemeanor Domestic Violence
Common misdemeanor instances of domestic violence include:
- Pointing a gun at someone
- Assault while a child is present
Misdemeanor penalties can involve up to 150 days in jail, probation, or the requirement of an abuser treatment program.
The abuser may also be ordered to pay restitution to the victim.
Felony Domestic Violence
In contract, felony domestic violence is far more serious. It also carries heavier penalties.
This type of domestic abuse often involves:
- Rape or sexual assault
- An assault that inflicts serious bodily harm
- Strangulation that doesn’t result in death
The abuser’s sentencing will depend on what type of crime they committed. For example, sex crimes fall under a different statute than assault with a deadly weapon.
Taking the above examples into account, someone convicted of a violent offense may be found guilty of a Class H felony, which carries a maximum sentence of 39 months in prison.
Someone convicted of a sex crime, though, could be found guilty of a Class B1 felony, which has a maximum punishment of life without parole.
What Should You Do If You’ve Been Accused of Domestic Violence?
In order to ensure that you avoid any unnecessary obstacles during your situation, there are certain things you’ll need to keep in mind at different points during the process.
When Law Enforcement Shows Up
As you’ve likely heard plenty of times before, anything you say in the presence of law enforcement has the potential to be brought up in court and used against you. So, it’s crucial that you say as little as possible — even if the other party is being dishonest with law enforcement.
When communicating with police, politely state your identity and that you don’t want to answer any other questions without being in the presence of your lawyer.
When You’ve Been Detained
Don’t sign or formally declare anything, even if the police tell you that it will help speed the process along.
If you use the jail’s phone, understanding that your conversation isn’t private. Anything you say on the phone could be recorded.
Additionally, don’t call your accuser while you’re at the jail. Any contact with them after your arrest could portray you in a negative light.
If you need to contact a bondsman, you have the opportunity to do so here.
During your stay, be as cooperative as possible to avoid any further issues.
After You’ve Been Released
Your first priority should be to immediately contact an attorney. Hiring a reputable lawyer who specializes in this area of law is your best course of action.
Failure to do so could have drastically negative consequences, so don’t forego this obligation!
Domestic Violence is Serious
With the above information about the punishment for domestic violence in mind, you’ll be well on your way to ensuring you take the right steps.
Want to learn more about what to do if you can’t afford bail? This article has plenty of useful information.