Acronyms and numerical designations applicable to some areas can sometimes seem innocuous, rendering their subject matter distant and without immediate implications.
Take the short term "50-B Order," for example. Facially, it gives hint of, well, nothing.
When applied as authorized by the North Carolina General Statutes, though, a 50-B Protective Order is a razor-sharp enforcement mechanism that potentially yields multiple adverse consequences to any individual targeted by it.
In a nutshell, 50-B is a civil order signed by a state judge that has immediate impact on a so-called "domestic relationship," which broadly encompasses linkages between spouses, unmarried partners, LGBT couples and even people who are simply dating.
Its focus: a person who has allegedly committed one or more acts of domestic violence against another party.
Notably, too, that is broadly encompassing, with domestic abuse in North Carolina embracing far more than simple physical behavior. Domestic violence includes excessively harassing and demeaning behaviors, as well as things like stalking.
An alleged victim can apply to a judge for protection, which ensues immediately when a 50-B Order is signed.
The ramifications of the Order -- which is automatically in effect for 10 days and is then subject to a judicial hearing where it can be challenged or, in some cases, extended for up to one year -- are flatly material. An alleged assailant is barred from contact with an accuser, and can potentially suffer many other consequences, such as limits on access to children, premises eviction, mandatory enrollment in classes, fines and support payments, weapons confiscation and potential targeting by criminal law authorities.
Although, unsurprisingly, it is most often men who seek legal counsel after being charged in a domestic violence case, women, too, are sometimes named as aggressors in 50-B Orders.
Much about domestic abuse is complex, fluid and subjective, with the facts not always being clear when legal authorities first become involved.
One thing is decidedly clear, though, and that is this: Every individual who is alleged to be an abuser and who becomes subject to a 50-B Order or otherwise embroiled in the criminal justice system has an immediate and strong need for proven legal advocacy.
Diligent representation can be provided by a seasoned defense attorney with a demonstrated record of advocacy rendered on behalf of alleged assailants in domestic abuse cases.
The stakes are high, with the safeguarding of a suspect's legal rights and interests being an absolute imperative.