State v. Hall, Docket No. 48860

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Writing for the CourtBEVAN, Chief Justice.
Citation515 P.3d 727
Parties STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Melanie Nicole HALL, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket NumberDocket No. 48860
Decision Date12 August 2022

515 P.3d 727

STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent,
Melanie Nicole HALL, Defendant-Appellant.

Docket No. 48860

Supreme Court of Idaho, Boise, May 2022 Term.

Opinion filed: August 12, 2022

Eric D. Fredericksen, Idaho State Public Defender, Boise, attorney for Appellant. Jenny Swinford argued.

Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, attorney for Respondent. Mark Olson argued.

BEVAN, Chief Justice.

Melanie Hall appeals from a district court's order modifying a no contact order. Hall argues the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to modify the no contact order because it had expired by the time the district court entered its order. Hall asks this Court to reverse the district court's order modifying the no contact order and hold the amended order is void. We affirm.

515 P.3d 729


In 2015, the State charged Hall with felony stalking of her ex-husband, in violation of Idaho Code section 18-7905(a), and aggravated assault, in violation of Idaho Code section 18-905. Based on the charges, the district court entered a no contact order, and set it to expire in May 2017, prohibiting Hall from contacting her ex-husband. In January 2016, a jury found Hall guilty of felony stalking. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty on the aggravated assault count.

In March 2016, the district court entered a judgment of conviction for stalking and sentenced Hall to a five year unified sentence, with the first two years fixed. The court also entered an amended no contact order prohibiting Hall from contact with her ex-husband and their two minor children. The new no contact order was set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on March 28, 2021.

Hall moved to amend the no contact order twice. Once, to allow written communication, and another time to allow Hall to send Christmas presents to her children. Both requests were granted. The expiration date remained March 28, 2021.

On March 26, 2021, two days before the order was set to expire, the State moved to extend the no contact order beyond the expiration date. The State explained that Hall's victims were concerned with the imminent expiration of the order, and informed the district court that a new charge of violation of the no contact order had been filed against Hall. Two days after the no contact order expired, on March 30, 2021, the district court held a hearing on the State's motion. The hearing was continued after the court learned Hall's attorney had been unable to contact her. The following day, the State filed a memorandum in support of its motion. The State argued the district court had authority to extend the no contact order under recent case law, Idaho Criminal Rule 46.2, and Idaho Code section 18-920.

On April 6, 2021, the district court attempted to hold another hearing on the State's motion, however, Hall was not present and so the hearing was continued once again. On the same day, Hall's ex-husband filed his own request to modify the no contact order and extend it for the "continued safety" of their children. The ex-husband recounted a recent occurrence in which Hall contacted one of the daughters at work and screamed at her, which resulted in the daughter being afraid to return to work.

On April 27, 2021, the district court held another hearing, at which Hall was present. The ex-husband asked the court to extend the no contact order until at least May 6, 2023, when the older child would be eighteen years old. Hall opposed extending the no contact order, arguing this was not the appropriate venue for the court to extend a no contact order past the original expiration date because the court's subject matter jurisdiction had passed. Hall highlighted that she had not been convicted of the misdemeanor charge of violating the no contact order, and the judge in that case could still enter a no contact order if a motion was put in front of him or if Hall was convicted of violating the no contact order. Hall also suggested the ex-husband could obtain a civil protection order. Hall raised a concern that "when we have a motion that comes essentially on the eve of expiration, it appears that orders can essentially live on in perpetuity, and I am worried that is what we are getting into here."

The district court orally granted the State's motion to modify the no contact order. As to the issue of subject matter jurisdiction, the district court determined that the no contact order existed separately from Hall's sentence, and found that case law grants the district court discretion to extend a no contact order as part of a "modification." The district court agreed that it was a more difficult proposition to continually extend no contact orders into perpetuity; however, it concluded that was not what it was being asked to do. The court found it had been given a finite date at which the order would expire and the request for an extension arose from a credible allegation that Hall had not abided by the last no contact order. The court concluded that "the parties, particularly the children in this case, are entitled to the protection of the no-contact order." Further, given the credible pending allegations, the

515 P.3d 730

court removed the earlier exceptions in the no contact order.

On April 27, 2021, the district court entered an amended no contact order, and set it to expire May 6, 2023. Hall filed a timely notice of appeal.


"Whether a court lacks jurisdiction is a question of law that can be raised at any time and over which appellate courts exercise free review." State v. Miller , 151 Idaho 828, 832, 264 P.3d 935, 939 (2011) (citing State v. Jones , 140 Idaho 755, 757, 101 P.3d 699, 701 (2004) ). The Court freely reviews the interpretation of criminal rules and statutes. State v. Castro , 145 Idaho 173, 175, 177 P.3d 387, 389 (2008).


The district court had the authority to amend the no contact order because the State's motion to extend the expiration date was timely filed.

Hall brings her appeal asserting the sole issue is whether a district court has subject matter jurisdiction to modify a no contact order after its expiration date, if the underlying motion was filed before it expired. Hall argues the district court lost its authority to modify the no contact order upon its expiration; thus, the amended no contact order is invalid. The State counters that the district court retained subject matter jurisdiction to rule on the State's motion because it was timely filed before the no contact order expired.

We first recognize that this Court has "clean[ed] up the imprecise use of the term ‘jurisdiction.’ " State v. Brown , 170 Idaho 439, 511 P.3d 859, 861 (2022). Brown was decided after this case was litigated in district court and after the parties filed their briefing with this Court. Brown was also not submitted as supplemental authority by either party to the appeal, but it was discussed during oral argument. Brown is directly relevant to Hall's appeal here, because we recognized there that

[t]he Idaho Constitution confers general jurisdiction on Idaho district courts to hear all cases in law and equity. Idaho Const. Article V, § 20 ; State v. Rogers , 140 Idaho 223, 228, 91 P.3d 1127, 1132 (2004). Once a district court acquires subject matter and personal jurisdiction over a criminal defendant, the court's "jurisdiction continues until extinguished by some event." State v. McIntosh , 160 Idaho 1, 6, 368 P.3d 621, 626 (2016).

Id. Thus, the question raised by Hall here, though not stated as such, is whether "some event" occurred by the expiration of the original no contact order before the district court could rule on the motion to extend it, which extinguished the district court's jurisdiction.

To reiterate, "[s]ubject matter jurisdiction is the power to determine cases over a general type or class of dispute." State v. Lute , 150 Idaho 837, 840, 252 P.3d 1255, 1258 (2011) (quoting Bach v. Miller , 144 Idaho 142, 145, 158 P.3d 305, 308 (2007) ). The source of this power comes from Article V, Section 20, of the Idaho Constitution, which provides that district courts "shall have original jurisdiction in all cases, both at law and in equity, and such appellate jurisdiction as may be conferred by law." Id. "Absent a statute or rule extending its jurisdiction, the trial court's jurisdiction to amend or set aside a judgment expires once the judgment becomes final, either by expiration of the time for appeal or affirmance of the judgment on appeal." State v. Jakoski , 139 Idaho 352, 355, 79 P.3d 711, 714 (2003). Judgments and orders made without subject matter jurisdiction are void. Lute , 150 Idaho at 840, 252 P.3d at 1258.

Idaho Code section 18-920 and Idaho Criminal Rule 46.2 govern no contact orders. Section 18-920 allows a court to impose a no contact order:

When a person is charged with or convicted of an offense under [certain Idaho Code sections], or any other offense for which a court finds that a no contact order is appropriate, an order forbidding contact with another person may be issued. A no contact order may be imposed by the court or by Idaho criminal rule.

I.C. § 18-920(1). Nothing in this statute sets a limitation period on a no contact order. T...

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