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Are Criminal Records Public In Montana?

According to Section 44–5–301 of the Montana Code, the state’s criminal records are considered public records. This means that Montana residents may contact record custodians to request criminal records on all of the state’s citizens. However, there are statutory restrictions that guide the dissemination of criminal records in the state.

While the general public may request criminal records on any person, third-party requestors may only access arrest and court information on misdemeanor and felony charges. Also, the general public may not access criminal records that were deferred and eventually dismissed.

In Montana, criminal records are maintained and issued by the Montana Department of Justice and are available to all requestors for a fee.

What Is Included In A Criminal Record In Montana?

A criminal record is a state-issued record that contains information about a Montana resident’s criminal history. This record includes the general trajectory of all of the individual’s criminal cases, right from an arrest to a final court disposition. Updates to the court disposition, such as appeals and dismissals, are also included in a criminal record.

Although issued by the Montana Department of Justice, criminal records are collated from the several state law enforcement agencies that handled the case. Typically, the following information is included in a person’s criminal record:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Photographs, if available
  • Fingerprint records
  • Details on all charges and offenses committed
  • Dates and descriptions of all arrests
  • Information on complaints and indictments
  • Sentence details for each charge
  • Current location of the offender, if still in custody
  • Date of release or earliest possible release

How To Look Up My Criminal Records In Montana?

Criminal records are accessible from the Montana Department of Justice through a name-based check or a fingerprint check. Both methods are available by mail and in person. Criminal records are also available online.

A name-based check allows access to limited criminal record information. Persons interested in a name-based search may send a written request to the Criminal Records and Identification Services Section of the Department of Justice. The written request should contain information about the offender, including a full name, known aliases, nicknames, or maiden names. The request should also include the person’s social security number and the person’s date of birth.

Enclose the written request with a self-addressed and stamped envelope and a check or money order for $15. Send the request and payment document to:

Montana Criminal Records

PO Box 201403

Helena, MT 59620–1403


Phone: (406) 444–3625

Fax: (406) 444–0689

To obtain a name-based Montana criminal record in person, requestors may visit the Criminal Records and Identification Section of the Montana Department of Justice. Interested persons will be required to provide specific information about the subject, including a full name, date of birth, aliases, maiden names, and the person’s social security number. Visit on any weekday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, at:

Criminal Records and Identification Services Section

Montana Department of Justice

2225 11th Avenue

Helena, MT 59601

Phone: (406) 444–3625

Fax: (406) 444–0689

Eligible persons may also request a fingerprint-based criminal record. This method provides records that contain more comprehensive details, including the subject’s criminal history information from all members of the Western Identification Network (WIN). The WIN comprises seven other states, including Alaska, Idaho, Washington, Nevada, Utah, and Oregon, and Wyoming.

To request a fingerprint-based criminal record, visit the Criminal Records and Identification Section at the above address to obtain a fingerprint card. Applicants must make sure that the fingerprint card contains the following information:

  • The subject’s last name, first name, and middle name, in that order
  • Date of birth
  • Social security number
  • Personal identifying information, such as sex, race, height, weight, eye and hair color, place of birth, and citizenship
  • Signatures from the subject and the fingerprinting official
  • All aliases including a maiden name or any former names
  • The name and address of the employer where the criminal record will be sent

A fingerprint-based search costs $10 and an additional $5 for fingerprinting services. Note that applicants may contact local law enforcement agencies for fingerprinting services. However, fees may vary depending on the agency taking the fingerprints. Fingerprint cards should not be folded or stapled. Mail the completed fingerprint card to the Criminal Records and Identification Services Section.

Under certain statutory conditions, some persons may be required to obtain a federal criminal record from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) through the Montana Department of Justice. Certain agencies may request criminal records for licensing, employment, or pre-employment purposes. Persons eligible to request a federal fingerprint-based request may do so by applying to the Montana Department of Justice. A federal fingerprint-based criminal record costs $30, excluding the charge for fingerprinting services.

Note that some parts of a person’s criminal history may be available with law enforcement agencies and other entities, but unavailable in some cases. For instance, information on parole, probation, and police reports are only available from the issuing law enforcement agency, or the court that handled the case.

How Can I Get My Criminal Records For Free In Montana?

Criminal records are only available through the Criminal Records and Identification Services Section for varying fees, depending on the type of record. The Montana Department of Justice currently does not allow interested persons to obtain criminal records for free. However, volunteers requesting a federal fingerprint-based criminal record may do so for a reduced fee of $25, excluding the cost of fingerprinting.

Note that the volunteers should be eligible under the statutory authority of the National Child Protection Act (NCPA), as amended by the Volunteers for Children Act (VCA). On the fingerprint form, the person must indicate “Volunteer” and also state the specific role played at the entity where the volunteer services are rendered.

How To Search Criminal Records Online In Montana?

The Montana Department of Justice provides online access to criminal records, via the Criminal History Online Public Record Search (CHOPRS). Interested persons may search Montana criminal records online by providing information about the subject of the record. The required information includes the subject’s last name, first name, date of birth, and the requestor’s name. Other options available to filter the search result include the subject’s social security number and up to four known aliases. Note that each record costs $20, payable by a credit card or eCheck.

Interested persons may also access criminal case information online. The Montana Supreme Court provides a docket search where persons may search for these records. Using the platform, interested persons may search through active and closed dockets from 1979 to date. Requestors may find records using the case number, party name, case attorney, and filing date range.

The search result shows a list of records that match the inputted search queries. Each record contains a case number, jurisdiction, original court, case type, short title, full title, and case filing date. The result also shows all parties to the case and their appellate roles. Requestors may also access a register of all actions taken in the case.

How To Get Criminal Records Expunged In Montana?

Under Section 46–18–11 of the Montana Code, individuals with criminal records may apply to expunge criminal records in the state. However, Montana law only allows the expungement of misdemeanor offenses. To qualify for expungement in Montana, the individual must meet the following requirements:

  • Five years have passed since the person completed the terms of the original sentence, including time in prison, financial obligations, or any treatment ordered by the court
  • The person has not received a conviction anywhere in the country during the waiting period
  • The person is not currently detained or charged with the commission of an offense

Note that persons that have applied to enlist in the United States armed forces, National Guard, or a United States military academy may have the above requirements waived. This waiver also applies to persons currently serving in the National Guard or the armed forces. However, the person may not currently be detained or charged for any offense.

Montana allows eligible persons to expunge any misdemeanor conviction in any court, regardless of when the sentence was pronounced. While these persons may apply to expunge all misdemeanors on a criminal record, note that a person may attempt an expungement only once. Any failed or dismissed attempts may not be revisited.

Montana residents that meet the above requirements may begin the expunction process by downloading and completing the Expungement Request Form. Completing the form requires the applicant to fill a full name, date of arrest or conviction, information about all charges, date of birth, and social security number. The form must also include the person’s return address, phone number, email address, signature, and date. Note that the full name should be printed on the form.

While all misdemeanors are eligible for expungement, the court may take a firmer approach when considering an expunction for the following offenses:

  • Assault
  • Stalking
  • Misdemeanor DUI
  • Protective Order Violation
  • Partner of Family Member Assault (Domestic Assault)

In addition to eligibility, note that the court will consider the following in deciding on the expungement application:

  • How much time has passed between the offense and application—While Montana law requires a minimum of five years after the offender completes any court-ordered sentences, the chance of an expungement improves if more time has passed
  • The applicant’s age at the time the offense was committed
  • Evidence that the petitioner has gone through some rehabilitation and the person’s behavior has improved
  • The likelihood that the person will commit another offense
  • Any factor(s) the court may consider relevant

After completing the form, submit it to the Criminal Records and Identification Services Section, at:

Criminal Records and Identification Services Section

Montana Department of Justice

2225 11th Avenue

Helena, MT 59601

Phone: (406) 444–3625

Fax: (406) 444–0689

Also, the applicant must serve a copy of the completed form to the prosecution office and the Montana district court in charge of the case. If the person is eligible, the court will set a date for the hearing. Note that filing fees may apply.

If any of the charges involve victims, the prosecution office will contact the victims within 14 days from receiving the expungement petition. The prosecution office will also inform the victim of any scheduled court hearings. At the hearing, the court will allow the prosecution office to argue against the petition. Any victims that appear at the court hearing may also argue against the expungement.

In Montana, the Criminal Records and Identification Services Section is required to remove all non-conviction data automatically. This includes all cases that were dismissed, acquitted, or not filed. However, persons with non-conviction criminal records are advised to request a copy of their criminal record to confirm that the data is no longer included. If the record still contains non-conviction data, file a petition in the court with jurisdiction over the arrest.

After receiving an expungement order, the petitioner should visit a law enforcement agency for fingerprinting services on a blue applicant fingerprint card. After filling a fingerprint card, submit the card and the court’s expungement order to the Criminal Records and Identification Services Section. After verifying the fingerprints and confirming that the person has not previously attempted an expungement, the records will be expunged.

Note that the petitioner is also expected to deliver the expungement order to all record custodians, including law enforcement agencies. Allow 30 days for the expungement process to be completed.

Who Can See My Expunged Criminal Record In Montana?

After receiving an expunged order, public access to the record is barred. Members of the public may not easily access any part of the record. Nevertheless, an expungement order does not completely erase or destroy the record.

A person whose record has been expunged is not obligated to offer any information on the record. The person is legally allowed to state that the arrests or prosecution never happened. However, some access to the record may be possible.

In Montana, law enforcement agencies may gain access to these records, especially if necessary to further an ongoing investigation. Also, public access to the record may be obtained if the requestor petitions the district court with jurisdiction. Note that the requestor must show good cause to receive a court order to the effect.

  • Criminal Records
  • Arrests Records
  • Warrants
  • Driving Violations
  • Inmate Records
  • Felonies
  • Misdemeanors
  • Bankruptcies
  • Tax & Property Liens
  • Civil Judgements
  • Federal Dockets
  • Probate Records
  • Marriage Records
  • Divorce Records
  • Death Records
  • Property Records
  • Asset Records
  • Business Ownership
  • Professional Licenses
  • And More!