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Montana Arrest Records: How to Find Arrest Records in Montana

Montana Arrest Records: How to Find Arrest Records in Montana
September 12, 2022

With a population of over one million, the US state of Montana ranks 48th in population density. The state's crime rate, per the national rate, was 3.74 per 1,000 violent crimes in 2018. 


With a 36th-ranked arrests per capita rate, Montana is bottom of the pack in the arrest category. The state started generating public records in 1907. Information in these records is obtained from all 56 counties of the state. 

In Montana, any individual caught contravening the provisions of Montana State's penal code will be arrested and made to undergo criminal proceedings. 


In addition, the arresting officer is mandated to make a report of the entire incident. This document, known as an arrest record, is also called an arrest report in Montana. 

Some of the details you will find in a Montana arrest record include personal information (name, age, phone number, social security number, etc.), physical description of the individual (hair color, race, weight, sex, height, tattoos, scars, birthmarks, etc.), criminal charges filed, fingerprints, bail, mugshots, etc. 


handcuffs lying on an illustration of the Montana flag

As in other US states, arrest records, also called arrest reports in Montana, are considered public documents and are accessible to members of the public. 


Therefore, these records can be obtained upon application to the relevant law enforcement agency; however, they may also come up during a regular background check.

Why You Might Not Access Arrest Records in Montana 

Although the Montana Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) mandates law enforcement agencies to release arrest records and other types of public records, they are various reasons why you may not be able to access arrest records in Montana. 


These reasons (exemptions) are provided under the FOIA, and they include:

* The information contains privileged and confidential exchanges between two law enforcement agencies. 
* The information is designed to protect natural security. 
* The information could be dangerous to another individual's privacy when released.
* The information is meant for law enforcement purposes regarding a court case or investigation or might disclose a confidential source. 
* The information concerns the law enforcement agency's internal rules and practices. 
* Another federal enactment precludes the release of the information. Etc.

a man being fingerprinted

How to Find Montana Arrest Records

If you are looking for arrest records in Montana, there are two ways you can go about getting them. These techniques are discussed below:

Visiting a Local Law Enforcement Agency

Arrest records are primarily held by law enforcement agencies, usually the county sheriff and police department responsible for the arrest. 


To obtain an arrest record, visit the office of the law enforcement agency in the location where the arrest was made.

While the procedures and charges differ from county to county, you will be required to file an application stating your personal information, such as full name, valid ID, and contact details, alongside the reasons for wanting the record. 


You will also be required to offer sufficient information about the arrested individual, including full name, date of birth, booking number or case number, etc.  

If your application is successful, you will receive a physical copy of the arrest record.


Searching Arrest Records Montana Online

Since looking for physical copies of arrest records can be challenging, searching online is a viable alternative. 


The Montana Department of Justice offers a Criminal History Online Public Record Search that allows people to search for Montana arrest records, convictions, and other public criminal records. 

Electronic access to arrest records is provided under Section 44-5-301 of the Montana Code Annotated. Visit the website and input the first and last name of the person, together with the city, on the search bar. 


The search is fee-based and costs $20 per search, which is to be paid using a credit or debit card.  

Here are some vital details on how to run a search: 

You can use the search as a registered or public user. Registered users are required to pay $100 per annum, and the package includes access to all Montana eGovernment services. 

Once a search is concluded, the results will be available for viewing for 14 days.

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The required fields are date of birth, first name, and last name. Other details are optional but would provide you with more accurate results.

Only Montana criminal records are contained in the database and none of the other states. 

Finding a Montana Arrest Records by Subpoena

A subpoena is a document issued by a court mandating an individual or body to carry out a particular action. The action may include attending a hearing or producing a special document. 

For example, in Montana, persons searching for arrest records can obtain a subpoena mandating the arresting agency to produce the record. 


This right is provided under the Montana Public Records Act. To subpoena the arresting agency, the person must download and complete the subpoena form. 

After that, they have to present the document to the court clerk for issuance, including signing and stamping. 


Thereafter, they can proceed to serve the document to the custodian of the arrest record. 


Delivery can be in person, and you might be required to pay a non-refundable fee to the court.

You can apply for a correction if the details in a Montana arrest record are incomplete or inaccurate. Contact Montana Criminal Records via (406) 444-3625 to explain your situation and obtain instructions on what to do. 

Concluding Thoughts

Arrest records contain valuable information about a person's criminal history. Finding arrest records in the US state of Montana is an easy exercise you can accomplish by following the above guidelines.

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