Are domestic violence cases civil or criminal?

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

There are numerous ways that accusations of domestic violence could affect someone’s life. If a spouse alleges that someone is abusive, the person accused may worry about ending up in court. Domestic violence accusations can carry a stigma that can follow someone for years if they do not respond appropriately.

Defendants responding to accusations of domestic violence from a spouse, roommate or family member may feel a bit confused about what those allegations might mean. People accused of domestic violence typically have to prepare for court proceedings. Can domestic violence allegations lead to someone going to trial in criminal court or facing accusations of misconduct in civil court?

Either court could hear domestic violence cases

In North Carolina, state prosecutors do sometimes bring criminal charges against those accused of domestic violence. When there is evidence, such as witness testimony or medical records, affirming that someone engaged in violent conduct toward a spouse, state prosecutors may take action against an individual accused of domestic violence. In fact, the state can sometimes choose to press charges even when the alleged victim does not want to participate in the prosecution.

The state can charge someone with a variety of offenses over allegations of domestic violence. Domestic violence itself is not a crime, but assault, battery, stalking and harassment are. Certain factors, like the use of a weapon or strangulation, can increase the chances of felony charges. A guilty plea or conviction might mean jail time, fines or probation for the defendant.

That being said, sometimes domestic violence claims lead to civil court cases instead. Those who claim they need protection orders due to domestic violence file the paperwork seeking such orders in civil court. A judge then reviews the request and the evidence of the plaintiff to decide whether the situation justifies limiting the freedoms of the person accused.

Domestic violence claims can also lead to family court. People may file for divorce or may seek to modify custody orders over issues with domestic violence.

Understanding the potential consequences and the legal process ahead can benefit those accused of domestic violence in North Carolina. The appropriate response to those allegations depends on what type of legal matter arises and the details of the case.