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Montana Criminal Records

Montana Criminal Records encompass official documents that law enforcement agencies and the judiciary system maintain to record and preserve information concerning individuals engaged in criminal activities within the state's jurisdiction. 

In Montana, these records contain various information on an individual's criminal history that helps individuals assess risks and make well-informed choices when forming relationships or engaging in multiple activities.

It typically includes personal details such as full name, aliases, date of birth, physical description, and current address. Additionally, they encompass comprehensive information about arrests, charges, convictions, probation, parole, and any subsequent legal actions related to the criminal offense.

The Montana Public Records Act regulates the accessibility of criminal records to the public in Montana. This act ensures transparency and accountability by granting individuals the right to access and obtain records maintained by the Montana Department of Justice (MDOJ). 

The MDOJ is responsible for compiling criminal records in the state and making them available to the public unless specific legal exemptions exist.

What Are the Types of Crimes in Montana?

In Montana, understanding the types of crimes found in criminal records is essential to comprehend the nature and severity of offenses. Similar to those of other states, the Montana Criminal Records contain a comprehensive list of crimes, including the following:


Montana felonies are significant crimes that can lead to lengthy prison sentences, fines, and other penalties. Unlike some other states, Montana does not have specific categories for felonies. Instead, the law establishes the maximum sentences for each crime.

In Montana, it is the court's responsibility to determine the appropriate sentence within the limits set by the law for each felony. Depending on the offense, penalties may include fines or incarceration.

For instance, a conviction for burglary in Montana carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $50,000. The same maximum prison sentence and fine apply to aggravated assault. 

When a criminal statute in Montana does not specify a penalty for a felony, the maximum punishment is ten years in prison and a fine of $50,000. The death penalty may also be imposed for offenses like intentionally causing someone's death.

Other felony offenses in Montana include identity theft, strangulation of a spouse or family member, and negligent homicide. These crimes are considered severe and can result in significant penalties upon conviction.


Misdemeanor crimes are less severe offenses compared to felonies but still carry legal consequences. In Montana, a misdemeanor is a crime punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year or fines.

Unlike some states, Montana does not have subcategories for different types of misdemeanors for sentencing purposes. Instead, the statutes for each crime specify the maximum punishment for the offense and where a detention sentence should be served.

In Montana, the court can determine the appropriate sentence in each criminal case within the framework of the applicable criminal laws. For most misdemeanors, judges can impose a fine or a combination of a penalty and a jail term.

Individuals who commit common misdemeanors like sexual assault or unlawful entry in this state may face a sentence of up to six months in jail and a $500 fine. However, the state's laws prescribe harsher penalties for repeat offenders of the same offense.

For instance, if someone is guilty of sexual assault for the second time, they could be sentenced to one year in jail, fined $1,000, or both. On a third and subsequent arrest for sexual assault, the offense is elevated to a felony, carrying a potential punishment of up to five years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, or both.

Additionally, if the victim suffered financial losses, the court may order the offender to provide compensation in addition to any other sanctions imposed.

Other misdemeanor crimes found in Montana Criminal Records include disorderly conduct, theft of property valued at less than $1,500, and stalking, among others. These offenses, though less severe than felonies, still carry legal consequences and can result in jail time, fines, or both.

How Does Probation Work in Montana?

In Montana, probation is a legal arrangement that allows individuals convicted of a crime to serve their sentences under community supervision instead of incarceration. The agency responsible for supervising probation in this state is the Montana Department of Corrections (MDOC). 

When a person is granted probation in Montana, they are placed under the supervision of a probation officer assigned to monitor their progress and adherence to the terms of probation. The probation officer assists and guides individuals throughout their probationary period.

During probation, the individual must comply with a set of conditions and restrictions the court imposes. 

These conditions typically include regular check-ins with the probation officer, maintaining employment or pursuing education, abstaining from drug and alcohol use, avoiding contact with known criminals, and attending counseling or rehabilitation programs as deemed necessary.

Failure to comply with any of these conditions can result in consequences, such as additional penalties or even probation revocation.

Probation in Montana is typically granted for a specific duration, which may vary depending on the nature of the offense and the individual's circumstances. Throughout the probationary period, the probation officer monitors the individual's progress, conducts regular meetings, and may perform home visits to ensure compliance and address any concerns.

While on probation, individuals may also be required to pay fines, restitution, or other financial obligations as determined by the court. These financial responsibilities provide restitution to victims or cover the costs associated with the individual's supervision and rehabilitation programs.

How To End Probation Early in Montana

In Montana, when a person is guilty of a crime and is serving probation, they can end the process early through conditional discharge. It permits individuals to petition the court to enable them to conclude probation early and then terminate the prison term early with the courts.

However, this legal process is not available to everyone, and eligible individuals must wait some time to request conditional discharge in this state. Under Montana Code 46-23-1011(6), probationers have a specific time frame to request conditional discharge based on their risk level.

Furthermore, it's crucial to understand that conditional discharge is not available for all types of offenses in Montana. The court carefully considers various factors, including the nature of the crime, the individual's criminal history, and the likelihood of rehabilitation, to determine if an individual is eligible for a conditional discharge.

In most cases, only nonviolent felony convictions qualify for this legal process. Serious offenses such as violent or sexual offenses generally do not meet the eligibility criteria for a conditional discharge.

How Does Parole Work in Montana?

Parole in Montana is a form of supervised release granted to prisoners with good behavior and a commitment to rehabilitation during incarceration. It allows individuals to transition from the controlled prison environment to the community while still being watched by parole officers.

Once an individual becomes eligible for parole, they undergo a comprehensive review by the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole (MBOPP). The board members carefully consider various factors, such as the nature of the offense, the individual's behavior while incarcerated, their demonstrated commitment to rehabilitation, and input from victims, among others.

This rigorous evaluation ensures that parole is granted to those who have shown genuine efforts towards positive change and pose minimal risk to public safety.

Once the MBOPP grants conditional release, offenders can return to the community under the supervision of the MDOC, which will conduct thorough assessments of an offender's risk level, criminal history, institutional behavior, and participation in rehabilitation programs. 

These evaluations assist in determining the likelihood of successful reintegration into society and inform the parole decision-making process.

When parole is granted, specific conditions are imposed on the parolee to ensure accountability and successful reintegration.

These conditions may include regular meetings with a parole officer, employment or educational requirements, restrictions on travel or association with specific individuals, mandatory participation in rehabilitative programs, and compliance with drug and alcohol testing.

How Does Expungement Work in Montana?

In Montana law, expungement refers to eliminating or sealing a criminal record. This process aims to allow individuals to move forward without the burden of a past conviction hindering their prospects for employment, housing, education, or other areas of life.

The process of obtaining an expungement in Montana involves several key steps. First, an individual must determine their eligibility for expungement based on the specific circumstances of their case.

Generally, the state's law permits expungement of certain types of offenses, primarily misdemeanors and some nonviolent felonies, provided that specific criteria are met. Violent crimes and offenses involving sexual assault or child pornography, among others, typically are not eligible for expungement.

When it comes to misdemeanors, there is a waiting period of five years from the completion of all legal requirements resulting from the offense, including the payment of fines and fulfillment of court-ordered treatment. 

During this waiting period, individuals must maintain a record of law-abiding behavior, refraining from committing any additional offenses in Montana or any other state.

Once eligibility is established, the individual must file a petition with the District Court that handled the case.

The petition should outline the reasons for seeking expungement and provide any supporting evidence or documentation that may strengthen the case. Individuals seeking expungement must also ensure that all required documents and forms are correctly completed and submitted within the designated time frame.

Following the submission of the petition, the prosecution office will inform any victims. A hearing is also typically scheduled to review the request for expungement.

If the court approves the expungement, the individual must send a copy of the order to the arresting law enforcement agency and other relevant authorities. 

How To Obtain a Criminal Record in Montana

In Montana, individuals or organizations can use various methods to obtain criminal records. One of the main ways is to approach the MDOJ directly. This department collects Montana Criminal Records and allows the public to get them through online searches, in-person visits, or mail.

Interested individuals may use the Criminal History Online Public Record Search tool of the MDOJ to obtain criminal records online. This service lets users search the state's public criminal history record database.

Users can start the search on the portal as registered or public users. Registered users must enter their assigned username and password for their billing account before searching. It enables a streamlined search experience while ensuring the security of their personal information.

On the other hand, public users can search by entering accurate and specific information about the individual they're looking for. It includes the person's first and last name, date of birth, social security number, and any four aliases. In addition, public users must provide their names to search.

Once individuals have provided all the necessary information and completed the payment requirements, they must submit their search request through the portal. The system will then process their request and retrieve the relevant criminal record information.

Alternatively, interested individuals can personally visit the office at 2225 11th Avenue, Helena, MT 59601, during business hours from Monday to Friday, typically between 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM, to conduct fingerprint-based or name-based background checks.

Lastly, individuals can obtain these records by sending mail. Mail-in requesters must send a letter to the department that includes the name of the person being searched, any aliases, their social security number, and birthdate.

To facilitate a seamless process, requesters must include a self-addressed, stamped envelope to ensure the return of the requested records. Additionally, enclose the processing fee, which can be conveniently paid by check or money order. Once all the necessary components are ready, mail the package to the Montana Criminal Records Division.

What Are the Criminal Background Check Laws in Montana?

Like many other states, Montana recognizes the significance of criminal background checks in various situations. These checks are crucial in maintaining community safety and trust, whether for employment, housing, or volunteering.

However, employers obtaining Montana Criminal Records through a background check must adhere to specific federal and state laws and regulations to ensure the process is fair, accurate, and consistent. 

At the state level, one important law that governs background checks is Montana Code 31-3-112. This law limits the reporting of certain criminal record information by consumer reporting agencies. Specifically, they are not allowed to report convictions over seven years old.

Aside from this state law, Montana employers must adhere to federal criminal background check regulations. These laws include the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which regulates consumer information collection, dissemination, and use, including criminal records.

Although it applies nationwide, it is particularly relevant to criminal background checks in Montana. The FCRA requires individuals or organizations conducting background checks to obtain written consent from the individual being investigated. 

Furthermore, it guarantees that individuals can contest any erroneous or insufficient information in their criminal records.

Moreover, Montana adheres to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under this law, employers must utilize an individualized assessment approach to allow applicants with criminal histories to explain why employers should not consider their past records.

Counties in Montana

Police Departments and Sheriffe Office in Montana

Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office2323 2nd Ave N, Billings, MT
Missoula County Sheriff's Office200 W Broadway St, Missoula, MT
Flathead County Sheriff's Office920 S Main St STE 100, Kalispell, MT
Gallatin County Sheriff's Office615 S 16th Ave #220, Bozeman, MT
Cascade County Sheriff's Office3800 Ulm North Frontage Rd, Great Falls, MT
Ravalli County Sheriff's Office205 Bedford St # G, Hamilton, MT
Lake County Sheriff's Office106 4th Ave E, Polson, MT
Lincoln County Sheriff's Office512 California Avenue, Libby, MT
Hill County Sheriff's Office1450 2nd St W, Havre, MT
Park County Sheriff's Office414 E Callender St #2, Livingston, MT