Injury to Real Property in North Carolina and its Role in Family Law Cases
Injury to real property is a broad term that can involve a number of different legal issues.
Generally speaking, it refers to intentional damage or destruction that is done to land or buildings or “realty.”
This can include anything from vandalism and arson to damaging real property. Real property includes things like houses, buildings, realty, and real estate.
The damage to real property requires wanton and willful conduct. That means it is an intentional act and not the result of an accident.
When it comes to family law cases, injury to real property can play a role in a variety of situations, from allegations of domestic violence to equitable distribution of the marital estate.
In this article, we will discuss what injury to real property is and how it may be relevant in your family law proceedings.
What is Wilfull Injury to Real Property?
In order to constitute an injury to real property, the act must be done willfully.
That is, it must be an intentional act and not an accident.
It must also be done with wanton disregard for the rights of others.
This means that the person who committed the act knew that it was wrong and did it anyway.
For example, if someone were to set fire to a house or other building on purpose, that could be considered an injury to real property.
Destroying or damaging the personal property within the interior of the building would necessarily constitute a separate criminal charge.
The relevant North Carolina criminal law that defines what is injury to real property may be found in N.C.G.S. 14-127. (N.C.G.S. stands for North Carolina General Statute)
It is similar in some respects to Injury to Personal Property but has some remarkable differences.
Punishments Injury to Personal Property depend in large measure on the amount of the personal property that is damaged.
ITPP (Injury to Personal Property) for items valued $200 or less is a crime, and is a Class 2 Misdemeanor. Damages to personal property valued more than $200 is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
The NC criminal law for willfully Damaging Personal Property is defined in N.C.G.S. 14-160.
In contrast, Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property is a Class 1 misdemeanor in North Carolina and carries with it a maximum period of incarceration (jail/prison) of 120 days.
As such, punishment under the NC misdemeanor criminal laws for a Class 1 Misdemeanor charge carries the potential for a longer period of incarceration than certain assault and assault and battery charges in North Carolina.
The consequences of a conviction, depending on the circumstances of the case, also involve the possibility of Supervised Probation, Costs of Court, and Fines.
How Does Injury to Real Property Relate to Family Law?
Injury to real property can play a role in family law proceedings in a few different ways.
While there may be issues of Marital Waste relative to Equitable Distribution, family law attorneys may immediately wish to address the possibility of domestic violence in the household or relationship.
Injury to Real Property, that is, the wanton and willful destruction of the household residence causing property damage, may be done so in an attempt to threaten, harass, and/or control the victim.
As such, it may also be a crime in North Carolina and prosecuted as such in criminal court.
What is Domestic Violence?
In order to understand how injury to real property may relate to domestic violence, it is important to understand what domestic violence is.
The North Carolina General Statutes define Domestic Violence.
The DV statute in NC – Chapter 50B includes things like:
- Attempting to inflict bodily harm, bodily injury
- Sexual assault, sexual abuse
- Intentionally causing bodily harm, bodily injury
- Placing the victim in fear of imminent bodily harm
- Causing property damage incident to assault or assault and battery
There are many resources available to victims of domestic violence, including safe shelters and hotlines like the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800)-799-SAFE or (800)-799-7233
Injury to Real Property as an Act of Domestic Violence
In North Carolina, injury to real or personal property can both be considered acts of domestic violence.
This means that if you are a victim of domestic violence, you may be able to obtain a restraining order against the perpetrator to protect yourself and the children in your household or care, and to guard against further property damage, assaults, and threats of harm.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, it is important to establish an attorney-client relationship with a qualified lawyer who can help you understand your individual rights and options.
We think it helps to retain a lawyer who possesses substantial courtroom experience in both family law and criminal law cases.
Criminal defense attorneys understand the process of criminal prosecution in criminal court. Family law attorneys tend to focus on issues involving Equitable Distribution, Custody, and Support.
We regularly serve as legal counsel in crossover matters, those that include both criminal allegations and their interaction with family court in Mecklenburg County, Union County, and Iredell County, North Carolina – Bill Powers, Charlotte Family Law Attorney
Criminal defense attorneys who limit their practices to criminal charges clearly understand the possible criminal sanctions; it’s important to establish an attorney-client relationship with legal counsel who further recognizes the impact of criminal allegations on restraining orders, child custody, and child support.
Please call the Powers Law Firm PA in Charlotte NC to schedule a consultation. We protect confidential or sensitive information obtained as part of confidential communications.
Our contact form sends information to an attorney on call. Our law firm will conduct a conflict check to confirm availability for legal representation.
What is a Domestic Violence Protective Order?
A Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) is a civil order that provides protection from abuse by a family or household member.
The DVPO can include provisions such as no contact, stay away, and turn over of firearms. Such orders ordinarily include provisions not to “assault, harass, or threaten the victim.”
That necessarily includes not committing further acts of domestic violence, including intentional cause property damage, communicating threats, assault and battery – Bill Powers, Charlotte Domestic Violence Lawyer
It is important to know that the DVPO does give child custody and child support to the protected victim.
North Carolina General Statute Chapter 50B helps explain what is Domestic Violence in NC and the legal options available to victims.
As such, family law attorneys and criminal defense attorneys may refer to Domestic Violence Protective Orders as “50B” Orders.
Violation of DVPO – Misdemeanor Charges
The willful violation of a Domestic Violence Protective Order in North Carolina is a misdemeanor offense.
Indeed, it is classified as an “A1” criminal charge and carries with it a maximum period of punishment of 150 days in jail.
Other possible consequences if arrested and convicted include community service, fines, costs of court, anger management class, restitution, and treatment.
Class A1 misdemeanors in NC include allegations of:
- Assault on a Female
- Assault on Government Official or Law Enforcement Office
- Assault with a Deadly Weapon
- Assault on a Child Under Age 12
- Assault Inflicting Serious Injury in the Presence of a Minor
The standard of proof for a criminal case is Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.
The legal standard in order to obtain a DVPO is By the Greater Weight of the Evidence.
Charges dropped by the District Attorney do not preclude the possibility of issuance of a DVPO.Learn More
We’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t make a federal case out of it.” It’s meant to imply a substantial overreaction or hyperbolic assessment of a problem. In the south, we might say, “Don’t make such a fuss.” But is it really fair regarding “DV” charges in Charlotte? Is domestic violence a federal offense?
Should it be?
Federal Court and federal criminal charges are serious stuff. People can serve long, long prison sentences if indicted and found guilty of violations of serious federal, criminal laws.
Given the possible consequences of DV, is it appropriate to “federalize” what has for decades been handled in state court?
Criminal charges like an assault on a female, communicating threats, injury to personal property, and felony assault by strangulation are traditionally considered to be violations of the NC criminal laws.
Should that be it?
Is it an overreaction to criminally prosecute someone in both state and federal court? Does that violate the Constitution or the precept of Double Jeopardy?
Is there a difference/more serious when the relationship involves a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, or other domestic relationship?
If so, when should it be a federal offense?
Domestic Violence in Charlotte already is somewhat complicated, given the possibility of a both criminal charges and a related DVPO (restraining order) based the same allegations. That’s true whether you’re a victim or the alleged offender. It helps to receive sound legal advice irrespective of where you stand in the courtroom – Bill Powers, Charlotte Lawyer
Recent media accounts suggest Domestic Violence in Charlotte may result in the feds taking a look. While most criminal charges in Charlotte will remain within the state court system, that’s true for state felony or misdemeanor charges, there are instances where the United Government might involve itself, seeking an indictment.
At least in Charlotte, the United States Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, Andrew Murray, seems interested in pursuing federal criminal charges in certain circumstances.
Those seem likely to be related to weapons offenses, cyberstalking, and instances of gross misconduct.
One would be remiss in failing to note that US Attorney Murray is the former elected District Attorney for the 26th Judicial District state court system (prosecutor for crimes in Charlotte-Mecklenburg) and as such, has intimate knowledge of both the strengths and weaknesses of the state court criminal justice system.
Domestic Violence Charges in North Carolina
The term “domestic violence” does not specifically refer to a certain type of charge as much as it is intended to cover some very common criminal charges that also involve a special relationship between the alleged victim and the accused.
Criminal defense lawyers sometimes view DV charges a bit differently from divorce lawyers. They tend to focus on the elements of offenses like assault, assault and battery, etc. The distinguishing factor is criminal charge involves a ‘domestic relationship’ – Bill Powers
There are special rules about bond/bail involving DV charges in North Carolina.
The DA’s Office in Charlotte has a special team of experienced prosecutors who focus on DV charges.
Related Legal Issues Involving Domestic Violence / Federal Offense
- Domestic Violence
- Domestic Violence Protective Orders in North Carolina
- Restraining Order
- Complaint for Domestic Violence Protective Orders – Filing and Pleadings
- DVPO Violation
Charlotte Divorce Lawyers – Domestic Violence – Bill Powers
Our law firm helps people on both sides of the courtroom. That means we represent both victims of domestic violence and those who may have been accused of acts of domestic violence.
Obviously, we don’t do that at the same time.
Legal representation is limited to one party in a dispute.
That’s one reason we conduct a conflict check before going into great detail into a case.
Our law firm is dedicated to helping people understand what has become, we believe, an extraordinarily complicated area of law. Understanding both sides to a dispute, and the procedural aspects of representation irrespective of the litigant, is an important aspect of any case – Bill Powers, Divorce Lawyer in Charlotte
We think it’s a good idea to take a holistic approach to analyze a case. Allegations of DV are as wide and varied as the parties and their individual relationships.Learn More