Montana Code Annotated

Quick Search

46-4-110. Powers of Coroner.
In the performance of duties under this chapter, the coroner may:
     (1) pronounce the fact of death of any human being under circumstances in which the coroner has a duty to inquire pursuant to 46-4-122;
     (2) certify and amend death certificates as considered necessary in circumstances under which the coroner has a duty to inquire pursuant to 46-4-122;
     (3) issue subpoenas pursuant to 46-4-112;
     (4) order autopsies as provided in 46-4-103;
     (5) conduct examinations and tests as considered necessary to determine the cause, manner, and circumstances of death and identification of a dead human body as provided in 46-4-101 and 46-4-113;
     (6) order a dead human body to be disinterred or removed from its place of disposition, with or without the consent of the next of kin, under circumstances in which the coroner has a duty to inquire pursuant to 46-4-122;
     (7) conduct inquests pursuant to 46-4-201; and
     (8) order cessation of any activity by any person or agency, other than the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction, that may obstruct or hinder the orderly conduct of an inquiry or the collection of information or evidence needed for an inquiry.


 7-4-2911. Duties of county coroner. The county coroner shall:
     (1) hold inquests as provided in Title 46, chapter 4, parts 1 and 2;
     (2) inquire into the cause, manner, and circumstances of all human deaths, as required in 46-4-122, and establish the identity of the deceased person;
     (3) provide decent disposal of an unclaimed dead human body and unclaimed parts of bodies believed to be human;
     (4) maintain records of inquiries as required by good practice and by law;
     (5) as soon as practicable upon identifying a dead human body, provide for notifying the next of kin of the deceased of the fact of death in any death into which the coroner is making an inquiry;
     (6) if a law enforcement agency does not have jurisdiction of the case, preserve evidence involving any human death, pursuant to the coroner's authority, including placing under the coroner's control, to the extent necessary, any personal and real property that may be related to or involved in the death;
     (7) witness and certify deaths that are the result of a judicial order;
     (8) inquire into any human death when no physician or surgeon licensed in the state will sign a death certificate;
     (9) notify the county attorney and the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction of all deaths requiring inquiry pursuant to 46-4-122; and
     (10) in the cases specified in 25-3-205, discharge the duties of sheriff. If acting as sheriff, the coroner is allowed the same salary as sheriff or the same fees as constable for similar services.

46-4-122. Human deaths requiring inquiry by coroner. The coroner shall inquire into and determine the cause and manner of death and all circumstances surrounding a human death:
     (1) that was caused or is suspected to have been caused:
     (a) in any degree by an injury, either recent or remote in origin; or
     (b) by the deceased or any other person that was the result of an act or omission, including but not limited to:
     (i) a criminal or suspected criminal act;
     (ii) a medically suspicious death, unusual death, or death of unknown circumstances, including any fetal death; or
     (iii) an accidental death; or
     (c) by an agent, disease, or medical condition that poses a threat to public health;
     (2) whenever the death occurred:
     (a) while the deceased was incarcerated in a prison or jail or confined to a correctional or detention facility owned and operated by the state or a political subdivision of the state;
     (b) while the deceased was in the custody of, or was being taken into the custody of, a law enforcement agency or a peace officer;
     (c) during or as a result of the deceased's employment;
     (d) less than 24 hours after the deceased was admitted to a medical facility or if the deceased was dead upon arrival at a medical facility; or
     (e) in a manner that was unattended or unwitnessed and the deceased was not attended by a physician at any time in the 30-day period prior to death;
     (3) if the dead human body is to be cremated or shipped into the state and lacks proper medical certification or burial or transmit permits; or
     (4) that occurred under suspicious circumstances.
     History: En. Sec. 4, Ch. 660, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 287, L. 1993. 

  46-4-101. Jurisdiction -- death and cause of death in different counties. (1) The coroner of the county where a dead human body is found has jurisdiction if:
     (a) the place of death is unknown;
     (b) the dead human body was shipped into the county without proper permits; or
     (c) the death occurred while the deceased was in transit in the state.
     (2) When death occurs as a direct result of acts or events that occurred in another county, the coroner of the county where the acts or events causing death occurred has jurisdiction. If a coroner that has jurisdiction of a death fails to act, the state medical examiner has jurisdiction.
     (3) A county coroner has primary jurisdiction in the county in which the coroner is appointed or elected to serve. However, a qualified coroner may serve in another county upon the request of the coroner or county attorney of that county. A coroner may travel to another county to inquire into a death pursuant to 46-4-122.

     History: En. 95-812 by Sec. 1, Ch. 196, L. 1967; R.C.M. 1947, 95-812; amd. Sec. 13, Ch. 660, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 1729, Ch. 56, L. 2009.


46-4-201. Inquest -- definition -- when held -- how conducted. (1) An inquest is a formal inquiry into the causes of and circumstances surrounding the death of a person and is conducted by the coroner before a coroner's jury.
     (2) The coroner may hold an inquest only if requested to do so by the county attorney of the county in which death occurred or by the county attorney of the county in which the acts or events causing death occurred. However, the county attorney shall order the coroner to hold an inquest if the death of a person occurs:
     (a) in a prison, jail, or other correctional facility and is not caused by the terminal condition, as defined in 50-9-102, of, or the execution of a death penalty upon, the person while the person is incarcerated in the prison, jail, or other correctional facility because of conviction of a criminal offense. This subsection (2)(a) applies to a death caused by a terminal condition only if the person was under medical care at the time of death.
      (b) while a person is being taken into custody or is in the custody of a peace officer or if the death is caused by a peace officer, except when criminal charges have been or will be filed.
     (3) If an inquest is held, the proceedings are public. The coroner shall conduct the inquest with the aid and assistance of the county attorney. The coroner shall, and the county attorney may, examine each witness, after which the witness may be examined by the jurors. The inquest must be held in accordance with this part.
     (4) (a) A coroner who also serves as a peace officer may not conduct an inquest into the death of a person who:
     (i) died in a prison, jail, or other correctional facility;
     (ii) died while in the custody of a peace officer; or
     (iii) was killed by a peace officer.
     (b) If a coroner is disqualified under subsection (4)(a), the county attorney shall request a qualified coroner of a neighboring county to conduct the inquest. The expenses of a coroner fulfilling the request, including salary, must be paid by the requesting county.

     History: Ap. p. Sec. 1, Ch. 196, L. 1967; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 250, L. 1975; Sec. 95-803, R.C.M. 1947; Ap. p. Sec. 1, Ch. 196, L. 1967; Sec. 95-809, R.C.M. 1947; R.C.M. 1947, 95-803(part), 95-809; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 343, L. 1983; amd. Sec. 15, Ch. 660, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 478, L. 1997.