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Attorney Carilyn Ibsen's Blog

about Criminal Defense in North Carolina and South Carolina


Friday, April 9, 2010

Do I Need An Attorney for a Domestic Violence Case?

A criminal defense lawyer handles many cases that involve acts of violence. From a misdemeanor simple affray violation to a very serious assault with great bodily injury charge or even attempted murder charge. Crimes are designated domestic violence when they take place within a family setting or between people who have a romantic relationship. If you are accused of domestic violence, your case will take a different path than most cases.

Your case will take a different path because the law distinguishes between violence between two parties and violence that occurs between a family member or a person you are having a relationship with. NCGS 50-B1 specifically defines relationships that are considered domestic. Common domestic violence charges in North Carolina are assault on a female, assault by strangulation, stalking, communicating threats, interfering with emergency communication, and even vandalism and assault on a child under 12.

As a former District Attorney from California, I know how serious these cases are taken. Our office had an entire unit, Family Protection, designated to handle these cases. A good friend of mine is assigned to the unit and her office is in the police department so she can work hand in hand with the police through the entire investigation and criminal case.

Even if you are accused of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge in Mecklenburg County, not even a felony, you are going to get assigned a special courtroom, assigned a district attorney that spends more time focusing and preparing your case than a general assault case, a victim advocate that is available to provide counseling to an alleged victim in the case and a judge that is working with a much smaller docket than most. Basically, your case is put under a microscope. If you are found guilty of an offense that was designated as a domestic violence case, you can be sentenced to jail, ordered to attend a batterers treatment program called NOVA in Mecklenburg County, court fines and possibly a court order that can prevent you from going to your residence or having any contact with witnesses in the case. This stay away order can even include an order preventing contact with your children.

I often get phone calls asking me "I'm being accused of assault on a female. My girlfriend and I got into a fight and next thing I know I am being arrested for domestic violence. Do I need to hire an attorney? Any time you are facing a criminal charge, you need to speak to an attorney. If you are accused of domestic violence, you need to speak to an attorney. The laws have become so severe and the consequences so high, you need to have your interests protected. We no longer live in a society where the alleged victim decides to "press charges." The police will arrest you and the State can charge you for these offenses regardless of what the other person wants. These are highly emotional cases; so emotional that in Mecklenburg County the Domestic Violence courtrooms have men and women sit on separate sides of the room. You need to have a criminal attorney protecting your interests.


posted by Carilyn Ibsen at


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