What is a No Contact Order?

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


  • A No Contact Order (Montana Code Annotated Section 45-5-209) tells a person charged with partner/family member assault that s/he cannot have contact with any survivors of the crime.
  • The purpose of the No Contact Order is to discourage the defendant from contacting a survivor between the time the defendant is arrested/charged and when the defendant first appears in court.

What kind of contact can a No Contact Order prevent?

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

·in person (by disallowing the offender from coming within 1,500 feet of the survivor)

·by a 3rd party

·by telephone

·by electronic communication

·in writing

Each contact or attempt to make contact with each survivor, directly or indirectly, is a separate crime. The survivor's consent to contact is not a defense. A survivor may not be charged with a violation of the No Contact Order.

How long does a No Contact Order last?

A No Contact Order lasts for 72 hours or until the defendant makes a first appearance in court.

How is a No Contact Order put into place?

·A judge can put a No Contact Order in to place when a person who commits a partner/family member assault is charged, or at any court appearance of that person (including sentencing).

·Judges also have the authority to issue "Standing No Contact Orders".

§A "Standing No Contact Order" means that ANY person charged with partner/family member assault will be informed by law enforcement both orally and in writing that there is an automatic No Contact Order placed against him/her.

§Law enforcement will tell the defendant about the No Contact Order and give him/her a copy of the written order at the time of their arrest. A copy is also filed with the court. A survivor can ask the court for a copy.

How is a No Contact Order different than an Order of Protection?

No Contact Order

Allowed in thecriminallaw system, which involves the handling of all partner/family member assault crimes. In the criminal law system, prosecutors represent the State of Montana, which is the Plaintiff. The person charged with the crime is the Defendant.

There is no formal way for a survivor partner/family member assault to ask a judge for a No Contact Order.

A judge can only put a No Contact Order into place when a person is charged with the crime of partner/family member assault.

A survivor has very little say in when and how a No Contact Order is put into place.

A No Contact Order will usually end when the defendant's criminal case is over.

A No Contact Order can only prohibit a defendant from contacting certain people.

Order of Protection

Allowed in thecivillaw system, which involves people bringing claims against other people. In the civil law system, the person bringing the claim is the Petitioner and the other person is the Respondent.

A survivor of any type of abuse, sexual assault, and/or stalking can formally ask a judge for an Order of Protection by filing a petition for such an order.

There are many situations in which a judge can put an Order of Protection into place, including situations wherenocriminal charges are made.

A survivor has a lot of say in when and how an Order of Protection is put into place.

An Order of Protection can be in place whether or not there is a criminal case ongoing.

An Order of Protection can prohibit contact and also command the offender to do things, such as attend counseling, etc.

If there is a No Contact Order in place against a defendant, should a survivor also try to get an Order of Protection?

YES. In certain situations, an Order of Protection can give a survivor more protection than a No Contact Order.

The Judge in my town refuses to grant Orders of Protection against defendants when there are No Contact Orders in place. What can I do?

You can contact your local domestic/sexual violence survivor advocacy program for help.

If you do not know how to do this, call the Montana Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence at 1-888-404-7794.

This fact sheet is intended to provide general information about Montana law. Because laws and legal procedures are subject to frequent change and differing interpretations, Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) and the Technical Legal Assistance Project (Project) cannot guarantee the update is currently accurate. You should not rely on this update for any purpose without first consulting an attorney. MLSA and the Project are not responsible for any use of the information contained in this fact sheet.

Last Review and Update: Jul 14, 2006

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