How Long Does Domestic Violence Stay On Your Record in North Carolina?

How Long Does Domestic Violence Stay On Your Record in North Carolina

Domestic violence is a serious offense with significant legal ramifications. In North Carolina, as in many other states, a domestic violence conviction can have long-lasting consequences that extend beyond the initial legal proceedings. One common concern for individuals involved in such cases is how long the offense will remain on their record and how it might affect their future. In this blog post, we’ll explore how long does domestic violence stay on your record in North Carolina and shed light on the associated implications.

Understanding Domestic Violence in North Carolina

In North Carolina, domestic violence is broadly defined and includes a range of harmful actions committed by someone against another person with whom they have or had a personal relationship. This could be a current or former spouse, partner, household member, or someone with whom they share a child. Here’s what constitutes domestic violence in North Carolina:

1. Physical Abuse

  • Attempting to Cause Bodily Injury – Trying to hurt the other person, even if the attempt fails.
  • Intentionally Causing Bodily Injury – Successfully hurting the other person on purpose.

2. Threats and Fear

  • Placing Someone in Fear of Imminent Serious Bodily Injury – Making the other person or their family/household members fear that they will soon be seriously hurt.
  • Continued Harassment – Repeated actions that cause the other person substantial emotional distress.

3. Sexual Offenses

  • Committing Sexually Related Offenses – Any sexual act that is defined as a crime in North Carolina, such as sexual assault.

It’s important to understand that domestic violence isn’t limited to physical harm. It also includes emotional, sexual, and financial abuse, reflecting the various ways one person can exert control and cause harm to another within a personal relationship.

How Long Does Domestic Violence Stay on Your Record in North Carolina?

The duration for which domestic violence remains on your record in North Carolina depends on several factors, including the severity of the offense and any subsequent legal proceedings. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

1. Criminal Record

If you’ve been convicted of domestic violence-related charges, the conviction will likely remain on your criminal record permanently unless you take steps to have it expunged. This can have significant implications for various aspects of your life, including:

  • Employment – Many employers conduct background checks, and a domestic violence conviction can be a barrier to getting hired.
  • Housing – Landlords may deny rental applications based on your criminal history.
  • Professional Licenses – Certain professional licenses can be revoked or denied due to a conviction.

2. Protective Orders

In cases where a protective order (restraining order) is issued against you:

  • Duration – Protective orders typically remain in effect for a specified period, usually up to one year.
  • Violation Consequences – Violating a protective order can lead to further legal consequences and may prolong its impact on your record, potentially resulting in additional charges.

3. Expungement

Expungement is a legal process that can potentially remove certain charges or convictions from your criminal record. However, the eligibility for expungement in North Carolina is quite limited, especially for domestic violence-related offenses. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Dismissed Charges or Not Guilty Verdicts – If your domestic violence charge was dismissed or you were found not guilty, you may be eligible to have the charge expunged from your record. This means it will no longer appear in most background checks.
  • Convictions – Expunging a domestic violence conviction is much more challenging. North Carolina law typically does not allow for the expungement of violent misdemeanors or felonies, including those related to domestic violence.
  • Timeframe – For eligible offenses, there is often a waiting period before you can apply for expungement. This can range from a few years to over a decade, depending on the specific circumstances and the nature of the charge.

4. Misdemeanor Convictions

For misdemeanor domestic violence convictions, such as misdemeanor assault on a female or communicating threats:

  • Indefinite Record – In North Carolina, a misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence can stay on your record indefinitely, potentially impacting your future opportunities and personal life. The record generally remains accessible unless expunged. This means potential employers, landlords, or other parties conducting background checks may access this information unless it is legally sealed.

5. Felony Convictions

For felony domestic violence convictions, such as assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury or habitual misdemeanor assault:

  • Indefinite Record – These convictions typically remain on your record indefinitely and may have more severe consequences for employment, housing, and other aspects of life.

In North Carolina, a domestic violence charge or conviction can stay on your record indefinitely, significantly impacting various aspects of your life. While expungement options are limited, especially for convictions, it is possible in some cases. Consulting with a knowledgeable attorney can provide clarity and help you navigate the legal process to potentially clear your record and mitigate the long-term effects of a domestic violence charge.

How Long Does Domestic Violence Stay On Your Record in North Carolina, Durham

Implications of a Domestic Violence Record

Having a domestic violence charge or conviction on your record can significantly impact various aspects of your life. Here are the primary areas affected:

1. Employment

  • Background Checks – Most employers conduct background checks as part of their hiring process. A domestic violence charge or conviction can be a major barrier to securing employment.
  • Job Opportunities – Certain industries, such as education, healthcare, and law enforcement, have stricter background check requirements. A domestic violence record can disqualify you from these fields.
  • Career Advancement – Even if currently employed, a criminal record can hinder promotions and career progression, especially in roles requiring security clearances or trustworthiness.

2. Housing

  • Rental Applications – Landlords often conduct background checks on potential tenants. A domestic violence conviction can lead to rental application denials, making it challenging to find housing.
  • Housing Assistance – Eligibility for public or subsidized housing can be negatively affected by a criminal record, limiting housing options.

3. Custody and Visitation

  • Family Court Decisions – Domestic violence convictions play a significant role in family court. Judges consider the safety and well-being of children when making custody and visitation decisions.
  • Visitation Rights – A history of domestic violence can lead to restricted custody visitation rights or supervised visitation to ensure the child’s safety.
  • Custody Battles – Convictions can be used as evidence against you in child custody disputes, potentially resulting in losing custody of your children.

4. Professional Licenses

  • Licensing Boards – Many professions require licenses, such as lawyers, doctors, nurses, and teachers. Licensing boards often have strict rules regarding criminal records.
  • License Denial – A domestic violence conviction can lead to the denial of a professional license application, preventing you from entering certain professions.
  • Revocation – For those already holding professional licenses, a conviction can lead to disciplinary actions, including the revocation of the license, effectively ending your career in that field.

A domestic violence charge or conviction can have far-reaching consequences on your employment, housing, custody rights, and professional licenses. These implications highlight the importance of addressing such charges proactively, potentially seeking legal counsel to explore options for minimizing their impact on your life.

Moving Forward

If you find yourself with a domestic violence charge on your record in North Carolina, it’s crucial to recognize the gravity of the situation and take proactive measures to address it. Seeking a domestic violence lawyer is pivotal to understanding your rights and exploring potential defenses.

Participating in counseling or rehabilitation programs can demonstrate a commitment to personal growth and transformation. Advocating for policy changes to support individuals with criminal records, including those with misdemeanor convictions and felony charges, in accessing employment, housing, and other opportunities can contribute to long-term societal progress. Engaging in the expungement process, including filing a petition for expunction, can help mitigate the repercussions.

Remember, you’re not alone in this journey; attorneys and organizations are ready to provide support and guidance. By embracing these opportunities for positive change, you can rebuild your life, find an apartment, secure employment, and move forward with renewed hope and determination.

How Long Does Domestic Violence Stay On Your Record in North Carolina, Durham City


Domestic violence convictions in North Carolina can have long-term consequences, potentially affecting various aspects of an individual’s life. Understanding how long such convictions remain on your record and the options available for expungement is crucial for moving forward and mitigating the impact on your future prospects. If you have been involved in a domestic violence case or are seeking assistance with record expungement, consulting with a knowledgeable legal professional is the first step toward achieving clarity and peace of mind.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some FAQS about domestic violence in North Carolina:

Q. What is the statute of limitations for domestic violence in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for domestic violence varies depending on the severity of the offense. For misdemeanors, such as simple assault or communicating threats, the statute of limitations is typically two years from the date of the incident. However, for felony charges, there is no statute of limitations, meaning that these crimes can be prosecuted at any time, regardless of how much time has passed since the alleged offense. This allows the legal system to address serious domestic violence cases without time constraints, ensuring that justice can be pursued whenever sufficient evidence becomes available.

Q. How long does a domestic violence case last?

The duration of a domestic violence case can vary widely depending on several factors, such as the complexity of the case, the type of charges, and the court’s schedule. Typically, the process includes the initial arrest, arraignment, pre-trial hearings, trial, and sentencing if convicted. This can take anywhere from a few months to over a year. Cases may be resolved more quickly if a plea bargain is reached, but contested cases that go to trial usually take longer.

Q. What happens after a domestic violence arrest?

After a domestic violence arrest, the accused is typically taken into police custody and may be held in jail until a court hearing. At the hearing, a judge will determine if there is enough evidence to charge the individual with a crime. The accused may be released on bail or remain in custody depending on the severity of the charges. The next steps involve court appearances, where the accused can plead guilty or not guilty. If found guilty, they may face a sentence that includes jail time, probation, or mandatory counseling. Throughout this process, it is important to work with a defense lawyer to navigate the legal system and explore possible defenses.

Q. How does completing a counseling program affect the length of time domestic violence stays on your record in North Carolina?

Completing a counseling program does not directly affect the length of time a domestic violence charge stays on your record in North Carolina. However, participation in such programs can positively influence the judge’s decision during sentencing and may improve your chances of obtaining a more favorable outcome, such as reduced probation time or eligibility for expungement. Ultimately, the charge or conviction will remain on your record indefinitely unless you successfully go through the expungement process.

Q. How can victims of domestic violence get protection orders in North Carolina?

Victims of domestic violence in North Carolina can obtain protection orders by filing a complaint with the court. They must provide details about the abuse and may need to attend a hearing where a judge will review the case. If granted, the protection order can include provisions to prevent the abuser from contacting or coming near the victim, and it can also provide temporary custody of children and possession of property. Victims often benefit from the assistance of attorneys during this process to ensure their rights are fully protected.

Contact Our Domestic Violence Attorney Today!

When facing the intricate legal landscape surrounding domestic violence charges in North Carolina, you need a trusted ally by your side. At Constantinou & Burkert in Durham, our seasoned legal professionals are dedicated to supporting you through every step of the process. With a deep understanding of the intricacies of domestic violence laws, we offer tailored guidance and robust representation to safeguard your rights and pave the way for a brighter future.

Don’t allow uncertainty to linger. Take proactive steps today by contacting us to schedule a consultation. Let us navigate the complexities of your legal matters with compassion and expertise, providing you with the clarity and resolution you deserve.

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(919) 683-1302

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Angela Smith

Business Owner

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