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10 Things to Know about Criminal No Contact Orders in Montana

Authored By: Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) LSC Funded
Contents

 

10 Things to Know about a Criminal No Contact Order

  1. A criminal No Contact Order is issued in a criminal case, usually for an assault on a partner or family member. 
  2. If for some reason a criminal No Contact Order is not issued in a criminal case, you can talk to the prosecutor, Judge, or Crime Victim Advocate to ask about it. 
  3. The criminal No Contact Order protects the victim of an assault from the abuser, who is called the Defendant in the criminal case.
  4. A criminal No Contact Order says the Defendant cannot try to contact the protected person. 
  5. Criminal No Contact Orders last from the defendant’s arrest to when they first appear in court for the criminal hearing.
  6. A Judge can extend the criminal No Contact Order at the first hearing.
  7. Criminal No Contact Orders can by extended by a Judge until the end of the criminal case. 
  8. It may be a crime each time the Defendant violates a criminal No Contact Order. A Defendant can get arrested for violating a criminal No Contact Order. 
  9. It is a violation of a criminal No Contact Order even if the protected person reaches out to the Defendant.  
  10. A criminal No Contact Order is different than Civil Orders like an Order of Protection, Civil No Contact Order, or a Temporary Economic Restraining Order.

 


 

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Definitions

People often confuse criminal No Contact Orders with similar Orders, like:

  • Order of Protection
  • Restraining Order
  • Civil No Contact Order
  • Temporary Economic Restraining Order.
     

Here are definitions of these Orders. 

Criminal No Contact Order: A Criminal No Contact order is placed on the Defendant during a criminal case, usually for an assault on a partner or family member. This article focuses on Criminal No Contact Orders.  

Order of Protection: An Order of Protection is a civil order. This means that someone does not need to be charged with a crime for you to ask the Court for an Order of Protection against that person. But, it may still be a crime if someone violates an Order of Protection. If you’d like to learn more, read our article Orders of Protection Frequently Asked Questions.

Restraining Order: Orders of Protections are sometimes called restraining orders but “Order of Protection” is the correct term. 

Civil No Contact Order: A Civil No Contact Order can look like an Order of Protection because it lays out what contact, if any, between the parties’ looks like but it is not the same as an Order of Protection. Civil No Contact Orders can be set up in parenting cases between the parents. A Judge may set up a civil No Contact Order after dismissing an Order of Protection because there are still safety or harassment concerns around contact between the parties.

It is a good idea to bring up violations of a civil No Contact Order to the Judge who signed the order. The Judge may look at violations of a civil No Contact Order as potential contempt of court. On the other hand, a violation of an Order of Protection or a criminal No Contact Order may be charged as a crime. 

Temporary Economic Restraining Order: The court always puts in place a Temporary Economic Restraining when someone files for divorce. A Temporary Economic Restraining Order stops the parties from borrowing against, disposing of, hiding, or destroying any property or assets that are part of the marital estate without notifying the court and getting permission except in certain circumstances. The Temporary Economic Restraining Order is then lifted when the parties are divorced. This Order has nothing to do with safety, and is a normal part of every divorce. 

 

What kind of contact can a criminal No Contact Order stop?

A criminal No Contact Order can prohibit any or all of the following kinds of contact:

  • in person (up to 1,500 feet from the victim)

  • by a 3rd party
  • by phone
  • by email, text message, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or any other messaging format
  • in writing

It can be a crime each time the Defendant tries to contact the victim. For example, if the Defendant tries calling you twice in the same hour, the Defendant may be charged with committing two crimes, not one. It doesn't matter if the Defendant tried to contact the victim through someone else or in person. The victim's consent doesn't matter. Even if the victim tells the Defendant they want to talk, the abuser is still not allowed to contact them. A victim cannot violate a criminal No Contact Order. 

 

How long does a crimiinal No Contact Order last?

A criminal No Contact Order lasts for 72 hours or until the Defendant shows up in court for the first time. The Judge can extend the criminal No Contact Order past the first hearing to protect the victim and a victim could request this extension in the court process. For more information on extending a criminal No Contact Order, talk to the prosecutor on the criminal case or a crime victim advocate

 

How do I get a criminal No Contact Order?

  • You cannot ask for a criminal No Contact Order. 
  • A Judge will give a criminal No Contact Order if they think it is necessary. Usually a judge will give one when the abuser is charged with a violent crime. 
  • The judge can give a criminal No Contact Order during any of the abuser's court appearances.
  • A victim can ask the court for a copy of the criminal No Contact Order.

 

How are a criminal No Contact Order and an Order of the Protection similar?

Orders of Protection and criminal No Contact Orders have a few things in common. A criminal No Contact Order and an Order of Protection are both set up to help keep the victim safe from the abuser. Violations by the Defendant with either Order are a big deal and may be criminally charged.  

It doesn’t matter if the victim starts the contact, if the abuser makes contact or tries to make contact then that is a violation. Usually, the victim does not get in trouble for trying to make contact. It is still a good idea to avoid contact with the person you have an Order of Protection or a criminal No Contact Order against. You can get help with an Order of Protection or criminal No Contact Order from a Crime Victim Advocate in your area and/or a lawyer

 

How are Orders of Protection and criminal No Contact Orders different?

 

Criminal No Contact Orders:
Orders of Protection:

1.   Criminal No Contact Orders only happen in criminal cases.

1.    Orders of Protection are civil, non-criminal legal cases.

2.    The Judge will issue a criminal No Contact Order against the Defendant to protect the victim of an assault. If the Judge does not order one, you can talk to the prosecutor, Judge, or Crime Victim Advocate about getting a criminal No Contact Order.  

2.    You can ask for an Order of protection by filing a Petition for Temporary Order of Protection.

3.    You must be the victim of an assault to get a criminal No Contact Order.

3.    You do not have to report the abuse to the police to ask for an Order of Protection.

4.    You do not have to have any specific relationship with the defendant, other than being a victim, to get a criminal No Contact Order.                                

4.    Usually, you must be a partner, ex, or family member of the abuser to ask for an Order of Protection. You can ask for an Order of Protection if you are the victim of stalking, sexual assault, rape or other crimes even if you had no relationship with the abuser. 

5.    A criminal No Contact Order only protects the victim of a crime where the prosecutor presses charges. A police officer will give the defendant the No Contact Order when they arrest them.

5.    A parent can ask for an Order of Protection for their minor child. You can get an order of protection if you are a partner or family member of a victim of a murder. 

6.    The victim has little to no say about how and when a Judge will issue a  criminal No Contact Order, or the detailed protections that a judge may put in place.

6.    The victim of abuse can ask for certain things to be put in an Order of Protection. For example, you can ask that the abuser goes to anger management or returns some property to you. 

7.    A criminal No Contact Order is issued by the court overseeing the criminal charge for an assault.

7.    You may file an Order of Protection in any court where the abuse happened, the victim lives, or where the abuser lives. If there is a parenting plan or divorce case, you should file the Order of Protection in the District Court overseeing that case.

8.  A Judge issues a criminal No Contact Order when the defendant is arrested. The no Contact Order is in effect immediately. And, the Judge can extend the No Contact Order during any hearing for the criminal charge. 

8.    Somone wanting an Order of Protection must start the process by filing a Petition for a Temporary Order of Protection. A Judge will review the petition. The Judge wll issue a Temporary Order if your petition meets all legal requirements. The Temporary Order goes into effect immediately, and a sheriff will serve the respondent. The respondent is the person you file an Order of Protection against. The Judge will schedule a hearing within 20 days after issuing the Temporary Order. At the hearing, you and the respondent will be allowed to share your side of the story and bring in evidence. 

9.    A criminal No Contact Order usually lasts until the end of the criminal case. 

9.    The Judge can make a Temporary Order of Protection permanent. A Permanent Order of Protection usually lasts 6 months but can last a lifetime. 

 

 

What is a Civil No Contact Order?


A Civil No Contact Order can look like an Order of Protection because it lays out what contact, if any, between the parties’ looks like but it is not the same as an Order of Protection. Civil No Contact Orders can be set up in parenting cases between the parents. A judge may set up a civil No Contact Order after dismissing an Order of Protection because there are still safety or harassment concerns around contact between the parties. It is a good idea to bring up violations of a civil No Contact Order to the Judge who signed the order. The judge may look at violations of a civil No Contact Order as potential contempt of court. On the other hand, a violation of an Order of Protection or a criminal No Contact Order may be charged as a crime. 

 

I am going through a Dissolution and there is a Temporary Economic Restraining Order mentioned in the paperwork.  Is that the same an Order of Protection?

No. A Temporary Economic Restraining Order is not the same as an Order of Protection.  The court always puts in place a Temporary Economic Restraining when someone files for divorce. A Temporary Economic Restraining Order stops the parties from borrowing against, disposing of, hiding, or destroying any property or assets that are part of the marital estate without notifying the court and getting permission except in certain circumstances. The Temporary Economic Restraining Order is then lifted when the parties are divorced.

 

There's a criminal No Contact Order against my abuser.  Can I also get an Order of Protection too? 

Yes, you can apply to get an Order of Protection against your abuser even if there is a criminal No Contact Order in place. It is legal to have an Order of Protection and a criminal No Contact Order against someone at the same time. An Order of Protection has different legal requirements than a criminal No Contact Order. An Order of Protection gives you a chance to have more say about what the Order says. For example, you can ask for property back, like a car. You can also ask for things like the court ordering your abuser goes to anger management, gets drug tested, as well as supervised visits while the parenting plan is being determined. Also, An Order of Protection may last longer than a criminal No Contact Order

Be aware. Sometimes filing an Order of Protection against your abuser can put you in danger, depending on how they will act. A sheriff will serve the abuser. You have a better idea than most people on how your abuser might behave. If you think your abuser will react dangerously to getting served by a sheriff with an Order of Protection, it is a good idea to talk to a Crime Victim Advocate. You can also think about safety planning. 

 

Summary

A criminal No Contact Order is different than an Order of Protection, a Temporary Economic Restraining Order, or a Civil No Contact Order. A Judge will issue a criminal No Contact Order in a criminal case, and you don’t get to ask for one. The court always puts in place a Temporary Economic Restraining Orders when any spouse files for a divorce. You can ask for an Order of Protection, even if you never reported abuse to the police. You can have both an Order of Protection and a No Contact Order at the same time. Each violation of a No Contact Order or an Order of Protection may be charged as a crime. It does not matter if the victim started the contact. If you have any questions, it would be a good idea to talk to a lawyer and/or a crime victim advocate. 

 


 

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Last Review and Update: Mar 25, 2019
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