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50B v. 50C – Know Your Options

by Samantha S. Erks, JD

If you’ve been a victim of domestic violence, stalking, harassment, or some other abuse, the courts can help provide you some protection from the perpetrator. The following are two options available, depending on your situation. A 50B refers to a Domestic Violence Protection Order, while a 50C refers to a Civil No Contact Order.

The terms “50B” and “50C” come from the laws that outline these options, NC General Statutes 50B and 50C. Every county has an office that will help you file for either a 50B or 50C, and you can reach that office by calling your local courthouse. But a 50B and a 50C are different orders – how do you know which to file? What happens when someone violates them?

What is a 50B? 

 A 50B is an order against a perpetrator who you have had a close, personal relationship with who has committed or threatened domestic violence against you or your child.

The 50B statute lists the people who you can file against. These include a current or former spouse; a person of the opposite sex you live with or have lived with; your parent or child or someone like a grandparent or grandchild who you’ve had a parent or child relationship with; someone you have a child in common with; a current or former household member; or a person of the opposite sex with whom you have a current or past dating relationship.

In M.E. v. T.J. (275 N.C. App. 528 (Dec. 31, 2020)), the NC Supreme Court held that you could also file against a person of the same sex who you are or were in a dating relationship with. A dating relationship is when “the parties are romantically involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship.”

What is a 50C?

A 50C can be filed against anyone who doesn’t meet one of the categories for a 50B and who has stalked, harassed, threatened, or attacked you or committed some other illegal behavior toward you. Both a 50B and a 50C can only be filed against someone who is 16 or older.

Punishments for 50B     

A court order wouldn’t be much protection if there wasn’t some sort of punishment for violating it. The punishment for violation is the other major difference between a 50B and a 50C. Because the perpetrator of a 50B is closer to the victim, the legislature decided that there needed to be harsher punishments to keep the perpetrator away from the victim.

Violating a 50B is automatically a class A1 misdemeanor, which is a crime. This means that the perpetrator can be arrested for violating a 50B and can be sentenced to serve time in prison and/or receive a fine. If a perpetrator violates a 50B order that requires them to stay out of your residence, then the police have to arrest them. If a perpetrator violates the 50B twice or comes into a safe house for victims of domestic violence, then the violation is a felony.

Punishments for 50C

Violating a 50C puts a person in contempt, which is not automatically a crime. You will have to file a Motion for contempt and get an Order to Show Cause from the court so the court will punish the perpetrator for their violation. The perpetrator gets a chance to explain themselves to the judge. The judge will then decide whether to hold them in contempt and whether to reprimand them, put them in jail, charge them a fine, or some combination of the three.

Options for Protection

Whether you qualify for a 50B or a 50C, if you are being abused, stalked, or harassed, you have options for protection. Contact your local court to file for either a 50B or 50C and then contact a family law attorney to help you through the rest of the process. If you are being abused at home, also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or text SMART to 88788.

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