Prior to Initial Appearance in Court:
Any person charged with a violation of Partner or Family Member Assault (PFMA) in violation of section 45-5-206 MCA, will be served with a No Contact Order by a law enforcement officer either at the scene of the incident, or at the Detention Center. This order prohibits any contact with the alleged victim(s) of this offense. No Contact includes by phone, email, in person (within 1500 feet), electronic communications, and through a third-party. The No Contact Order shall remain in full force and effect for 72 hours OR until they make their first appearance in court. Violation of this order is a criminal offense under section 45-5-209 MCA, and may result in arrest, even if the person protected by this order invites you or allows you to violate the prohibitions.
Initial Appearance in Court:
Any person charged with a violation of Partner or Family Member Assault (PFMA) in violation of section 45-5-206 MCA, will be served with a No Contact Order by the Municipal Court Judge at the time of their initial appearance in court (done via video conferencing from the Detention Center at 8:00 a.m. the next business day). This order replaces the one served by law enforcement, and prohibits any contact with the alleged victim(s) of this offense. No Contact includes by phone, email, in person (within 1500 feet), electronic communications, and through a third-party. This No Contact Order shall remain in full force and effect until the case is resolved (if they have pled not guilty to the offense) OR for the term of the suspended jail sentence (if they pled guilty to the offense). Violation of this order is a criminal offense under section 45-5-209 MCA, and may result in arrest, even if the person protected by this order invites you or allows you to violate the prohibitions.
To Lift the No Contact Order:
Any alleged victim(s) of this offense that is not wishing to have a No Contact Order in place must first contact Victim Services in the City Attorney’s Office (457-8597). Once that is done, a recommendation will be forwarded to the Court, and the alleged victim(s) may then file a request with the Judge to lift the No Contact Order. They must appear in person with the request (the request form can be filled out at court before seeing the Judge) Monday/Wednesday/Friday at 10:00 a.m. The Judge will discuss the reason for the request and may have other questions regarding the circumstances surrounding the request before making a decision on whether or not the No Contact Order will be lifted. The Judge is not able to hear any facts about the case at this time (must stay unbiased should the case go to trial) nor is the Judge able to dismiss the case. Any concerns about the charge and/or facts surrounding the case must be directed to the City Attorney’s Office. *The City of Helena is the Complainant of the case filed with the court, NOT the alleged victim(s), who is simply considered a witness for the City.
The Purpose of Orders of Protection:
Orders of Protection are issued to promote the safety and protection of the victims of family member or partner assaults, victims of sexual assault, and the victims of other specific crimes. Temporary Orders of Protection are authorized and based upon immediate need and the presence of danger. They are not intended to apply to other circumstances which, while very stressful and upsetting, do not present a substantial danger of harm to you or someone else seeking protection.
*You Must Be A Partner Or A Family Member, Or The Victim Of A Specific Crime:
The law provides that only people in certain relationships or victims of certain crimes qualify for the issuance of an Order of Protection. You must be an intimate partner or a present or past family member of the other party, or the victim of a designated crime. Family members include in-laws, siblings, step children and their parents. If the parties involved are pending any divorce and or child custody/visitation issues, it is best these matters be filed in the same court to avoid conflicting orders.
How to Apply for an Order of Protection:
You must fill out a Sworn Petition for Temporary Order of Protection and Request for Hearing (form attached). It includes a nine (9) page packet that must be filled out completely as well as a two (2) page Law Enforcement Service Information (must be filled out completely in order for the Police Department to enter the Order into their database, and the Sheriff’s Civil Department to attempt service). Once your packet is complete file the packet with the court for review by the Judge.
If the Judge signs the Temporary Order of Protection, a hearing will be set within (20) days and the paperwork will be sent over to the Lewis & Clark County Sheriff’s Civil Department, who will attempt service. *The Temporary Order of Protection is not valid (there cannot be a violation) until the Respondent has been served in person by Law Enforcement and only remains in effect until the date and time of the hearing. To follow up on service, you can contact their office at 447-8219.
The Petitioner’s personal appearance is required at the hearing in order for the matter to proceed. The Respondent does not need to be present, but must have been served. At the time of the hearing, the Judge will determine if a Permanent Order will be issued, and if so, for how long it will remain in effect (most commonly a year).