Facing domestic battery charges is an incredibly distressing and serious matter that requires diligent attention and strategic defense. In North Carolina, the legal system holds individuals accountable for their actions, but it is essential to remember that everyone is entitled to a fair and just defense.

If you’re facing charges, this blog will cover potential criminal defense strategies for domestic battery cases in North Carolina. We will explore the nuances of the law and provide guidance and support to those who find themselves entangled in these charges.

Learn more about criminal domestic battery charges and how to mount a strategic defense if you face a conviction for domestic battery in North Carolina.

What is Assault and Battery?

In North Carolina, domestic battery is the commission of a violent physical act against someone you are in a relationship with. Domestic battery can include your spouse, significant other, or even someone you live with. This serious crime can result in substantial consequences if you are convicted.

Assault and battery are similar types of crimes. Let’s look at what they mean in NC.

  • Assault: Attempting or threatening violence, with an actual intention to carry it out (whether or not you physically make contact with someone)
  • Assault and Battery: Making a threat or attempt to inflict physical violence and then physically and violently making contact with someone.
  • Battery: Violently and physically making contact with someone. Examples include hitting or slapping someone.

Charges of assault, battery, or assault and battery can bring you Class 2 misdemeanor charges. If convicted, you can face:

  • From 1 to 60 days in prison
  • Time in jail
  • Fines and court Fees
  • Probation
  • Community Service
  • Attorney fees
  • Counseling or treatment programs
  • “Violent” criminal record (means there is no expungement)
  • Loss of gun rights

What Is Aggravated Assault and Battery?

If your case includes aggravated circumstances, you can face A1 misdemeanor charges.

Aggravated assault and battery circumstances include other actions that a court considers more severe than a simple assault and battery charge. These include actions those such as:

  • Inflict serious injury upon another person
  • Use a deadly weapon
  • Assault a female (if you’re a male at least 18 years of age)
  • Assault a child under the age of 12 years

An A1 misdemeanor is the most serious misdemeanor charge you can face in North Carolina. An aggravated battery charge can bring serious time in prison. A1 misdemeanors carry more severe consequences, including:

  • From 1-150 days in prison
  • Time in jail
  • Fines and court Fees
  • Probation
  • Community Service
  • Attorney fees
  • Counseling or treatment programs
  • “Violent” criminal record (means there is no expungement)
  • Loss of firearm rights

What is a Domestic Battery Conviction?

Suppose law enforcement comes out to your home to break up a fight with your wife. In that case, you can face aggravated domestic assault and battery charges in addition to getting a restraining order from her.

It’s an A1 misdemeanor if you have a personal relationship with someone, and in the presence of a child under 18, you:

  • Assault this person causing serious injury OR
  • Use a deadly weapon on this person

The court gives you automatic supervised probation for a first offense and a minimum of 30 days in jail for a second offense!

Domestic Violence Defined

Domestic violence in North Carolina is when abuse occurs within a domestic unit. This abuse is treated differently than an assault on a random person. Domestic abuse occurs between:

  • Same or ex-household members
  • Current or former spouse
  • A parent of your child
  • An intimate relationship such as a boyfriend, girlfriend, or ex

North Carolina law defines domestic abuse as acting in one of the following ways toward a member of your domestic associations:

  • Domestic Assault Charge: Attempt to cause bodily injury with violent physical contact
  • Domestic Battery Charge: Intentionally cause bodily injury with violent physical contact
  • Place a member of your family or household in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or continued harassment at such a level that they feel emotional distress.
  • Commit any act defined as forcible rape or sexual battery

The NCCADV defines domestic violence as “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse.”

When you commit a violent act against someone close to you, it becomes domestic violence. That’s why you need experienced criminal defense lawyers to help you face these charges with the full extent of knowledge of the law.

Are Domestic Violence Charges Criminal in Nature?

In our state, domestic battery is a serious offense, and individuals who commit acts of domestic violence can face criminal charges. North Carolina law recognizes the significance of protecting individuals from domestic abuse within their own homes and strives to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.

You can find the legal definition of domestic battery or violence through statutes related to assault, battery, or other relevant criminal offenses. However, the court sees assault and domestic battery as domestic violence when you commit the offense against a:

  • Current or former spouses
  • A person with whom the defendant shares a child
  • A person with whom the defendant is or has been in a dating relationship
  • Someone who currently or previously lived as a household member
  • Family members who live or lived in your household

It is crucial to understand that domestic battery charges carry severe legal consequences, which may include:

  • Restraining orders
  • Fines
  • Mandatory counseling or treatment programs
  • Probation
  • Imprisonment

Your consequences depend on the circumstances and severity of the offense and your previous criminal activities.

If accused of domestic battery, seeking legal representation and understanding your rights is essential to mount an effective defense and navigate the legal process.

What Defenses are Available Against Domestic Battery Charges?

With domestic battery charges, you need all the help you can get to avoid prison time. In North Carolina, individuals facing assault and battery charges have several potential defenses that can be explored, depending on the case’s specific circumstances.

It’s important to note that the availability and viability of these defenses may vary depending on the facts of each case, and consulting with a qualified attorney is crucial for personalized legal advice. 

Here are some common criminal defenses that your legal team may use against assault and battery charges in North Carolina:

Self Defense

If you can establish that you reasonably believed you were in immediate danger of physical harm or death and that your use of force was necessary to protect yourself. In that case, self-defense may be a valid defense to domestic battery. The force used must be proportionate to the threat faced.

Defense of Others

Similar to self-defense, you may argue that you used force to protect another person from immediate harm or danger. You must show that your belief in protecting the other person was reasonable.


Let’s say the alleged victim willingly participated in the activity that led to the assault or battery, and you can prove their consent. In that case, their consent may serve as a defense against domestic battery charges. However, consent must be voluntary and informed.

Lack of Intent

Domestic battery charges often require proof of intent to cause harm. You may show that the act of domestic battery was accidental, mistaken, or lacked the necessary intent.

False Accusation

In some domestic battery cases, your defense may argue that the allegations are false or motivated by ulterior motives, such as revenge, jealousy, or a desire to gain an advantage in another matter.


If you can provide evidence or witnesses that establish you were somewhere else when the alleged assault or domestic battery occurred, it can be a strong defense against the charges.

It’s crucial to remember that these defenses against a domestic battery offense should be explored and presented within the framework of the law. The success of any defense strategy will depend on the specific details and evidence in each case. 

Consult a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to assess potential defenses and develop an effective legal strategy tailored to your situation.

What Can a Protective Restraining Order Do?

Ex Parte Order (Emergency Protective Order)

An emergency protective order, also called an Ex parte order, can begin protecting a household before you receive the papers from the sheriff’s office.

An emergency (ex parte) Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) may require you to:

  • Leave your home (regardless of who pays rent or mortgage)
  • Stay away from their own children
  • Give up possession of a motor vehicle
  • Surrender their “firearms, ammunition, and gun permits” to the sheriff

If you violate the firearms portion of the order, officers can bring charges for various weapons felonies. In this case, you’ll need legal defense to avoid jail time.

Domestic Violence Protective Order

If the judge does not give an emergency ex parte order, the sheriff’s office will serve you DVPO papers with a date for a hearing within 10 days. If the judge rules against you at the hearing, the court will issue a DVPO that can last up to 1 year.

A DVPO can order you to refrain from doing any or all of the following:

  • Contacting the domestic party directly or indirectly, including through third parties
  • Threatening, abusing, or following the domestic party
  • Harassing the domestic party by phone
  • Harassing the domestic party by visiting their home or workplace or by other means
  • Treating a household pet cruelly
  • Interfering with the domestic party in different ways (2)

Further legal protections the following may include:

  • Giving the domestic party possession of the home and excluding you
  • Awarding the domestic party temporary custody
  • Ordering your eviction from residence and assistance for the domestic party to return home
  • Ordering you to support minor children (if required by law)
  • Giving the domestic party possession of the combined personal property, including a pet or a minor child
  • Awarding the domestic party attorney fees
  • Prohibiting you from purchasing a firearm for a specified amount of time
  • Ordering additional requirements necessary to protect any party or minor child
  • Ordering sheriff to deliver protective order to school principals named in the order
  • Ordering you to attend and complete an abuser treatment program approved by the Domestic Violence Commission

Our Experienced Domestic Violence Defense Team Can Help

At Cape Fear Law, we understand the gravity of domestic battery and assault charges. We are committed to providing a solid legal defense for those facing these allegations in North Carolina. With our expertise in criminal defense, we vigorously advocate for our client’s rights and work tirelessly to build a strategic defense tailored to the unique circumstances of each case.

Our experienced defense attorneys thoroughly examine the evidence, explore potential defenses such as self-defense or false accusations, and challenge the prosecution’s case. We protect our client’s interests, preserve their reputations, and ensure justice.

If you or a loved one is facing domestic battery or assault charges in North Carolina, trust Cape Fear Law Law to provide compassionate support, personalized guidance, and a relentless pursuit of a favorable resolution.