Besides the fact that both 50Bs and 50Cs prevent the defendant from contacting the plaintiff, they differ in essentially every meaningful way. To take out a 50B, you must have a personal relationship with the defendant. This personal relationship is often a family member, a member of your household, or someone you are in a romantic relationship with. 50Cs are against a defendant with whom no such relationship exists. People who fall under 50Cs are neighbors, friends, coworkers, and complete strangers.
50Cs require much different conduct than 50Bs. 50Bs require physical violence, threat of physical violence, attempt at physical violence, or harassment that causes the plaintiff substantial emotional distress. For the physical violence or threat of the same, the plaintiff only needs to show that such an act occurred once. For a 50C, one must prove that the defendant either: (1) had non-consensual sexual conduct towards the plaintiff or (2) stalked the plaintiff. Stalking is defined as following or harassing another person on more than one occasion causing that person to fear for their or their family’s safety or causing substantial emotional distress. The acts related to the stalking cannot have legal purpose and have to be done with the intent to place the plaintiff in fear or in that substantial emotional distress. A person only needs to show a single incident of sexual conduct, but the plaintiff must show that the conduct constituting ‘stalking’ occurred more than once.
A single threat of violence or even someone acting violently towards you once is not grounds for a 50C. For both 50Cs and 50Bs, regarding harassment, you need to show that the conduct occurred with no legitimate or legal purpose. However, for 50Cs you must also show that the defendant acted with intent to cause the harm, whereas for 50Bs you just need to show that the conduct occurred and was directed at the plaintiff.
Overall, 50Cs are just harder to get than 50Bs. Often incidents that you think should warrant protection just do not qualify under the statute. A neighbor punching you, an acquaintance pulling a gun at you, a stranger threatening to kill you; none of these events, if occurring a single time, warrant a protective order under a 50C (although there are remedies through the criminal justice system). If any one of those same events occurred, but from someone whom you have a personal relationship with, then it would qualify under the 50B statute.
Finally, a violation of a 50C cannot result in a criminal charge. A violation of a 50B can.
To Learn more about Domestic Violence Protective Orders or 50B’s – we encourage you to check out our DVPO page.