If you are a victim and your abuser has a gun or you feel unsafe for other reasons, it is important to work with a victim advocate. The following organizations can help you find an advocate free of charge:
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE;
- VictimConnect at (855) 484-2846;
- Any of the local domestic violence programs listed here.
It is also helpful to have a lawyer assist you, particularly when you are seeking a domestic violence order of protection. You can find a lawyer using the North Carolina Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact North Carolina Legal Aid at (866) 219-5262.
How to Get Protection
What kind of domestic violence orders of protection are available in North Carolina?
North Carolina courts can issue two types of domestic violence orders of protection. In both of these orders, the court can help protect you from gun violence or threats of gun violence by an intimate partner:
- Ex parte domestic violence orders of protection1*
- (Final) domestic violence order of protection2*
Some respondents/defendants* subject to ex parte* domestic violence orders of protection3 and (final) domestic violence orders of protection4 are required to turn over their firearms to law enforcement and are prohibited from purchasing or possessing* guns.
If a respondent/defendant is not automatically prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms,5 the court can prohibit him/her/them from purchasing firearms and can also order whatever relief* it believes is necessary to protect you.6
How can you get an ex parte or (final) domestic violence order of protection?
Click here to see if you are eligible for an ex parte* or (final) order of protection in North Carolina.
You can find your local court here.
Court forms and instructions for filling them out can be found here.
What do I do if I do not qualify for protection as a victim of domestic violence but I still need protection from someone?
If you do not qualify for protection as a victim of domestic violence but need protection from someone (including a stranger, an acquaintance, or another person not covered under a domestic violence order of protection), you might qualify for some other type of order. Contact VictimConnect at (855) 484-2846 or a lawyer for more information. You can find a lawyer using the North Carolina Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact North Carolina Legal Aid at (866) 219-5262.
How can the court help protect you?
North Carolina courts will require respondents/defendants* subject to ex parte* and final domestic violence orders of protection to surrender their firearms to law enforcement and prohibit them from possessing* or purchasing in certain circumstances.7 In these cases, the court will:
- Order the respondent/defendant to hand their firearms over to the sheriff when the sheriff serves* the order; or
- If the respondent/defendant cannot hand their firearms over immediately, require the respondent to turn his/her/their firearms over to the sheriff within 24 hours of being served with the order.*
North Carolina courts can also order whatever relief* they deem necessary to protect you9– this means that if your case is not fully covered under the law cited above, a court can still protect you from gun violence. Some of the things a court can order include:
- Requiring the respondent/defendant to turn over their firearms immediately to local law enforcement;
- Prohibiting the respondent/defendant from possessing firearms while the order is in effect;
- Ordering law enforcement to retrieve the respondent/defendant’s firearms if the defendant does not turn them in as ordered by the court;
- Requiring the defendant to appear before the court to self-report turning over their firearms as ordered;
- Directing law enforcement to follow up with the defendant to make sure the defendant turned over their guns as ordered;
- Scheduling a follow up compliance hearing* to ensure that the respondent/defendant has not accessed additional firearms since the order was issued;
- Ordering law enforcement to go to your home at scheduled times to check in on your safety;
- Ordering the respondent/defendant to stay away from you, your children, your family, and anyone else in immediate danger, based on the threats and/or actions of the respondent/defendant;
- Ordering the respondent/defendant not to hurt you or threaten to hurt you in the future;
- Anything else you need to be safe.
How will the court know what you need to protect you from the respondent/defendant’s firearms violence?
In your petition* and during any of the hearings* you participate in when you are seeking protection, you will have the opportunity to tell the court about the respondent/defendant’s* threats or acts of abuse, especially ones involving firearms. Every situation is different, and it is important to talk to a lawyer about your specific situation. You can find a lawyer using the North Carolina Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact North Carolina Legal Aid at (866) 219-5262.
Your story will help the court decide what relief* to give you. Whether you are filling out court forms or speaking directly to the court, it is important to tell the court about the violence you experienced (working with your lawyer, if you have one), especially if the respondent/defendant used or threatened to use a firearm against you, a member of your family, any member of the community, or your pet. Among other things, this may include telling the court:
- About incidents of physical violence or threats of physical violence and include dates wherever you can;
- How the respondent/defendant used firearms to hurt or threaten you, your family, your pet(s), or anyone in the community;
- If you fear that the respondent/defendant may use firearms violence or threats of firearms violence in the future;
- If the respondent/defendant has threatened to harm him/her/themself. This may be a sign that the respondent/defendant intends to use a dangerous weapon like a firearm against you, themself, or other people;
- If you can, the type(s), number, and location of firearms the respondent/defendant has access to.