What are Montana Criminal Records?
Criminal records provide an overview of a person’s interaction with Montana law enforcement and the criminal justice system in Montana. Also called a rap sheet, the information assembled in a Montana criminal record are from local, county, and state jurisdictions, trial courts, courts of appeals as well as county and state correctional facilities. While the standard for criminal record collection and storage varies from county to county, a large percentage of Montana criminal records are organized in online record depositories that are available to the public in the form of a Criminal Background Report.
Criminal records are public records and may contain identifying data such as name, fingerprints, height, eye color, and other information such as:
- Charges and names of offenses committed
- Correctional facility located or correctional status
- Date of earliest possible release or date of release
- Photographs if available
Persons interested in other police records like arrest records, arrest warrants, incident reports, and logs of police activities may also search online depositories or contact the record custodian.
Are Montana Criminal Records Public?
Yes, Montana Criminal Records are publicly available according to the state’s Public Records Law. While Montana law enforcement can obtain an individual’s complete criminal history records, state public criminal records are limited to basic arrest and court information on felony and misdemeanor charges. The Montana Department of Justice is responsible for collating criminal history records and makes them available to the public through its Criminal Records and Identification Services Section. Interested public members may obtain criminal history documents in person, online, or by mail-in request.
Criminal records, considered public in the United States, are made available through some third-party aggregate sites. Searching with third-party websites is often easier as the information is not limited to geographic record availability. Information found on third-party websites can serve as a jumping off point for parties searching for a specific record or multiple records. Typically, requesters must provide the following information to gain access to these records:
- The record subject’s name, unless the subject is a juvenile.
- The record subjects’ last known location, including cities, counties, and states.
Third-party websites offer these search services, but they are not government sponsored. Availability of records may vary.
How to Obtain Criminal Records in Montana?
The Montana Department of Justice is responsible for collating criminal records and allows the public to obtain them in person, by mail, or by performing an online criminal record search. In-person requesters may obtain name-based background checks, fingerprint-based background checks, and fingerprinting services from Monday through Friday between 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM.
The Montana Department of Justice
Criminal Records and Identification Services Section
2225 11th Avenue
Helena, MT 59601
Mail-in requesters must make detailed requests to the Montana DOJ. Letters must include:
- The name (and any aliases) of the person being checked
- The person’s date of birth and social security number
Requesters must also include:
- A self-addressed, stamped envelope
- The $15.00 processing fee, paid by check or money order
Individuals that wish to obtain Montana criminal records online may visit the Criminal History Online Public Record Search portal. Researchers must submit the individual’s complete name and date of birth and pay $20 for the result.
Another way to access Montana criminal records is to visit the courts to see if the clerk of courts might offer on-demand court records. Finally, any individual that wishes to carry out a free public criminal record check may have to try a third-party source. Note that these sources may only have limited information.
What are Montana Arrest Records?
Montana arrest records are documents that provide information officially recorded on persons who have been taken into custody by law enforcement agents in the process of performing their duties of maintaining public safety, investigating crimes, and bringing criminals to justice. A person may be arrested on the basis that there is evidence or reasonable grounds to believe that they have committed a misdemeanor or felony, are involved or connected to a crime under investigation or the arrestee poses an immediate danger to themselves and others.
Are Montana Arrest Records Public?
Yes, Montana’s Public Records Law allows individuals to obtain public arrest records. While interested persons can obtain arrest records from the Montana Department of Justice, they can also query their local law enforcement agents.
Requesters can run a Montana arrest search by querying their local police station or sheriff’s office. They can also visit the Criminal History Online Public Record Search portal. Meanwhile, individuals that wish to obtain free arrest records in Montana may have to look to third-party options - although they may contain limited information.
What are Montana Arrest Warrants?
Montana arrest warrants are the authority issued by the court for the arrest of the person named in them. An active warrant provides law enforcement agencies with the legal authority to take a person into custody, at any time or place unless specific conditions of arrest are stated on the warrant. Before it is issued, the judge or magistrate must be convinced that there are reasonable grounds or probable cause to believe the arrestee has committed a crime or is involved in criminal activity. Interested persons who wish to obtain a copy of the document may contact the arresting agency to obtain the arrest warrant. Alternatively, the requester may perform an active warrant search if the agency maintains an online database.
What are Montana Inmate Records?
Montana inmate records are official documents pertaining to persons who are incarcerated in correctional facilities across the state. The Montana Department of Corrections maintains an online database with information on offenders who have been convicted and sentenced to a term of incarceration, for a felony. Interested persons can perform an inmate search to find inmate records. These documents typically contain the inmate’s name, incarceration date, expected or release date, offense convicted for, physical description, and sometimes photos.
What are Montana Jail Records?
Montana jail records contain information and documents on offenders in Montana state who have been placed under the custody and supervision of law enforcement agencies or the Montana Department of Corrections. Persons in jail may be held in custody for a relatively short period of time compared to those in state prisons. Inmates under the administrative custody of the DOC, by order of the court, no longer have their full constitutional right to liberty, as a consequence of their criminal conviction.
What is the Montana Sex Offender Registry?
The Montana sex offender registry contains publicly accessible records of registered sex offenders. Sex and violent offenders are required under Megan’s Law to register their information once they are released into the community and submit most current information such as an address, employment location, vehicles, and so on with the registering agency, within a specified period.
Information about sex offenders in Montana is collected, maintained, and updated by the Montana Sexual and Violent Offender Registration Unit. The Unit collects offender information from offenders, correctional facilities, the court, probation, or parole agency. Although the registry does not provide a complete criminal history of the offender, it does provide identifying information such as the name of the offender, physical descriptions including heights, race, hair color, body marking, scars, and tattoos. The photograph of the offender is likely to appear and the offense for which they are registered.
What is a DUI in Montana?
A DUI in Montana, otherwise known as driving under the influence (DUI), is among the state’s list of serious traffic violations. According to Montana’s DUI law, the police can stop a person on suspicion of drunk driving, if their driving appears impaired. A police officer can subject the driver to a blood alcohol content (BAC) test to determine their sobriety level. If the driver’s BAC is above 0.08% (0.04% for commercial drivers and 0.02% for minors), the police will arrest them for drunk driving.
In Montana, the penalties for impaired driving range from fines ($600 - $5000), to license suspension (6 months - 1 year), and jail time (6 months - 1 year). Depending on the circumstances surrounding the DUI, the court may also order the driver to install an ignition interlock device or complete an alcohol treatment program.
What are Misdemeanors in Montana?
A misdemeanor under Montana Law is considered a lesser offense compared to felonies. A conviction may be punishable by a fine and in some cases probation. It is possible to be sanctioned to a term, not more than 365 days of incarceration in jail for misdemeanor convictions. Criminal records are public records in Montana and information on persons convicted of misdemeanors may be obtained online. Montana laws define each misdemeanor offense and provide applicable punishment for a conviction.
What is a Felony in Montana?
A felony is an offense classified as a felony under Montana Laws. The gravity of an offense also determines whether it will be classified as a felony or a misdemeanor. There are no subcategories of offenses under Montana laws. Rather than separating felonies into tiers of seriousness, Montana statutes create offenses and provide the possible penalties for a person convicted of each offense. Penalties for felonies are often severe and may include serving a prison term. For crimes such as deliberately causing the death of another person, capital punishment may be imposed.
- Aggravated assault
- Strangling a partner or family member
- Negligent homicide
- Identity theft (depending on the circumstances)
What are Parole Records in Montana?
Parole records contain information on inmates who have been granted conditional release by the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole. Offenders released by the parole board are permitted to return to the community under the supervision of the Department of Corrections. Most offenders, except those who have been restricted from possible parole, are eligible for parole in Montana, once they have completed a quarter of their sentence. Parolees are required to strictly adhere to the conditions under which their parole was granted or risk losing the privileges of probation, which may include revocation of parole. To keep from committing a parole violation, parolees must:
- Obtain and maintain a gainful employment
- Remain with the designated district unless permission to relocated is officially granted
- Submit reports in the required format
- Avoid criminal activities
- Pay all fines, fees, and restitution ordered by the court
What are Montana Probation Records?
Probation records contain information on persons who have been granted the opportunity to avoid incarceration. Rather, the court orders the offender to remain within the community under the supervision of a probation officer and certain restrictions such as permissible residence, association, employment, weapon ownership or possession, and most often travel. Probation is usually ordered for persons who have been convicted for a minor offense and aren’t deemed at risk of probation violation.
What are Montana Juvenile Criminal Records?
Montana juvenile records reveal information and details of persons below the legal age of 18, who have been tried by a juvenile court and sentenced to a juvenile detention center in the state. Most Juvenile court records such as petitions, motions, filed pleadings, verdicts, court findings, decrees, other documents on file with the court clerk are accessible to the public until the juvenile’s 18th birthday. Juvenile records are automatically sealed and removed from official records maintained by all agencies including law enforcement agencies, except the Montana Department of Corrections. Juvenile records may be reopened for good cause such as when the person commits a new offense, on the order of the youth court.
What are Conviction Records in Montana?
Conviction records contain information that shows that a person has been held liable or accountable for a crime. A conviction is usually one of the results of a criminal trial or prosecution, proof that a person has been declared guilty by a court or jury has entered a guilty plea or a nolo contendere plea to a criminal charge. Conviction records form a significant part of a person’s criminal records and are accessible to the public.
Are Police Records Public in Montana?
All police reports, incident reports, and arrests records are considered public documents in Montana, meaning they can be accessed by anyone who requests them. However, some sensitive information may be withheld or redacted from these documents. To access police records, submit a public information request to the police department reponsible for generating the record origininally.
How to Obtain Police Records in Montana
The process for obtaining police records in Montana varies depending on the type of document being requested. For general requests, inquirers can make an open records request to the record custodian, describing the record being sought and the purpose of the request. For selected requests, the inquirer will be required to pay a fee to certify the record, or if extensive research is required to access the record.
Are Police Reports Public Record?
Yes, all police reports and incident reports are considered public records in Montana unless they feature information that may put an individual at risk of harm. To request a public police report, contact the police department with details of the report, the personell associated with the report and the purpose of the record being requested.
How to Find Mugshots in Montana
Mugshots of individuals who have been arrested and charged with a crime are public records in Montana. However, their disclosure is often restricted for security reasons. Mugshots are typically listed on the inmate roaster of local law enforcement websites and the state department of corrections inmate database. To conduct a mugshot search, enter the inmates full name DOC number, the date of their arrest or birth date into the search box of the database being used for the search.