Domestic Violence: I’m the Defendant, What do I do?

(Domestic Violence from the Defendant’s perspective is premised on the North Carolina General Statutes 50B1- 50B9)

In our last article, I discussed the importance of pursuing a domestic violence action against a person if you are the victim, but what happens if you are the defendant? What happens when the complaint does not accurately reflect what happened? Should I defend myself or should I hire an attorney? Hopefully, this article will help answer some of these questions.

Let’s start with the first question, “what happens when the complaint does not accurately reflect what happened?” If the complaint does not seem entirely correct when you read it and you would like to dispute the allegations then on your court date you will be able to take the stand and explain your version of the events regarding the incident referred to in the complaint. You and the Plaintiff will both have an opportunity to testify and ask each other questions and then the judge will decide whether it is necessary to issue a permanent Domestic Violence Protective Order.

Should you hire an attorney for that? It is my honest opinion, especially in cases like this, that you do. I am not just saying that because I am an attorney, I am saying that because in family law cases emotions tend to run very high. You will hear the Plaintiff’s testimony first and that may be upsetting or distracting because the Plaintiff will likely try to make you look as bad as possible to bolster their case to try to prevail. We also established in the previous paragraph that you would need to read and understand the complaint, prepare for court by knowing what questions to ask the plaintiff, prepare your own statement, and hopefully know the law well enough to try to get an outcome in your favor. You may also show up to find that the Plaintiff has retained counsel. If that happens then you are up against someone who practices this for a living which can sometimes be difficult. It is important to consider all of these factors before going forward on your own.

Sufficiently preparing for this is a lot to expect out of one person, especially because there will only be a few days to get ready. While hiring an attorney is never a guaranteed win, it is definitely worth it to at least consider consulting with one about your next steps, any procedural matters that you should take beforehand, and anything else that may be relevant to your case before you go to court. Is it possible to overcome these allegations once a complaint has been brought? Yes. Can you represent yourself?   Yes, you can. Should you at least consider hiring an attorney? Yes. No matter how you choose to handle this, a complaint against you is something that can be successfully argued. Just make sure you are as prepared as you can be, and good luck! As always, thank you for reading! Look out for my next short blog about child custody and domestic violence court.

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