Montana Court Records
What Do You Do if You Are On Trial For a Crime in Montana?
Persons who have been accused of a crime in Montana are usually advised to get suitable legal representation. An attorney will serve to provide expert legal advice and prove the accused’s innocence. Following standard practice adopted by the Montana Judicial Branch, the defendant, represented by an attorney, can provide witnesses and tangible evidence to the court to disprove the prosecutor’s claims. Based on the evidence provided, the judge or jury reaches a verdict on the case, and any party dissatisfied with the judgment can appeal the case.
What Percentage of Criminal Cases Go to Trial in Montana?
According to the Montana Judicial Branch’s 2018 district court statistics, Montana courts filed 12,850 criminal cases in the year. Of the lawsuits filed, 12,614 were disposed of. Based on the data, 99% of the legal actions were closed. However, only a small percentage of this number made it to trial.
When Does a Criminal Defendant Have the Right to a Trial?
According to Article II, Section 26 of the Montana Constitution, all persons charged with a crime have the right to a trial. Hence, all criminal defendants must be advised of the right to trial by a jury. However, in some situations, a defendant may be exempt from a jury trial—such as if the jury service is an unwarranted inconvenience.
What Are The Stages of a Criminal Trial in Montana?
In Montana, criminal trials proceed in the following stages;
- Selecting a Jury
- Opening Statements
- Testimony of the Witness
- Closing Arguments
- Jury Instruction
- Jury Deliberation
How Long Does it Take For a Case to Go to Trial in Montana?
According to the Sixth Amendment Rights of the United States Constitution, the accused is entitled to a speedy trial and must be informed of the reason for the charge. The Montana Supreme Court allows 270 days before a criminal case can go to trial. The Supreme Court set up four different factors in determining speedy trials;
- The length of the delay
- The reasons for the delay
- The defendant’s responsibility to assert his right
- The prejudice to the defendant
What Happens When a Court Case Goes to Trial in Montana?
In Montana, selecting a jury is the first step in a criminal trial case. When selecting a jury, the judge, plaintiff, and defendant attorneys will interrogate a group of potential jurors about the case. After choosing a jury, both parties present their opening statements. Subsequently, each party provides a witness and presents evidence to the jury. The prosecutor convinces the jury that the defendant is guilty of the crime with physical evidence such as medical reports, videotapes, records, and photographs, while the defense provides a counter-argument. There will be a cross-examination of evidence.
Following the closing arguments, the judge provides the jury with the lawful requirements needed to determine whether the accused is guilty or not guilty. The jurors then deliberate and come up with a unanimous agreement; the jury foreman informs the judge then announces the verdict in the open court.
Can you be Put on Trial Twice for the Same Crime in Montana?
No. Under section 25 of the Montana constitution, no person shall be put in jeopardy for the same offense previously tried in any other jurisdiction. This law is per the fifth amendment of the United States Constitution that ensures protection against being tried twice, retried after being acquitted, retried after a conviction, retried after several failed trials, or multiple punishments.
How Do I Lookup a Criminal Court Case in Montana?
In Montana, cases are filed by jurisdiction. District courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal lawsuits but often handle cases beyond the authority of other courts. Municipal courts, justice courts, and city courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of criminal cases. Persons who wish to obtain criminal court records will have to visit the court that presided over the court proceedings. Third-party portals provide access to case files as well.
How to Access Electronic Court Records in Montana
Once a document is processed and filed by the Montana Supreme Court clerk, the file has officially become a public record, and it’s subject to public review. For cases sealed by the Supreme Court order, members of the public may view the documents at the Office of the Court Clerk. The Office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court allows electronic access to court records. Individuals can search for either active or closed cases, and searches can be by case number, case party, or case attorney. Interested persons cannot access case documents of lower courts online.
How Do I Remove Public Court Records in Montana?
The Montana conviction expungement process allows the expungement of misdemeanor convictions. However, not all records are eligible for expungement. Felony records do not qualify for expungement unless the court dismissed the charges. Sex crimes are ineligible as well. The expungement process in Montana is as follows:
- A person files a petition with the district court requesting an order to expunge a court record.
- The prosecution office informs any victims.
- The district court grants the order if five years have gone by since the last conviction.
- The petitioner submits fingerprints to law enforcement agencies.
- The petitioner sends an email containing an expungement form, fingerprints, and the court order to the Criminal Records and Identification Services Section (CRISS).
- The criminal records and identification services section verifies the information and expunges the data from the computerized criminal history records.