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Montana Public Records: How to Perform a Montana Public Records Search

Montana Public Records: How to Perform a Montana Public Records Search
November 15, 2022

Although the Montana Public Records Law is there to ensure easy access to public records in Montana, the reality is a bit different. 


While residents and nonresidents of the state are free to request Montana public records, the absence of enforcement of the Freedom of Information Law in the state makes it easy for government agencies to get away with disregarding the law.


Further, the absence of designated record custodians for agencies and departments also complicates matters, and these agencies are not mandated to respond to Montana public records requests within any specific time frame.


There is no clear administrative appeal option, either, and the no case law holds that a delayed response to a request is equivalent to a denial. 


Consequently, filing a legal appeal is exceedingly challenging.

Montana Public Records Search

The record-holding department of the specific agency or department in charge of maintaining the documents makes public records in Montana accessible to the general public. 


Although verbal requests are also allowed, formal, written records requests must normally be made to the record-keeping department of the agency in order to obtain public records in Montana.

a woman's hand taking out a file from a cabinet drawer


Additionally, the general public in Nevada can get access to public records via several state departments' and organizations' online databases. 


Members of the public who prefer to access Montana public records unofficially can make use of the services offered by third-party websites.

Montana Public Records: Vital Records

According to the Montana Public Records Law, vital records in Montana are accessible to the public on request. 


Only eligible requesters, however, may access and obtain certified copies of these records. 


The law outlines eligibility criteria as being listed on the record, being a member of the record subject’s immediate family, or having legal permission to access the record.


To obtain certified copies of Montana vital records, requesters must provide a valid, government-issued ID, proof of their relationship with the record subjects, and, wherever applicable, a court order backing their request for the record.

two wedding bands on a piece of paper

Montana Public Records Search: Vital Records

Vital records may be ordered online through the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) record request program by interested and qualified individuals. 


Interested individuals must supply the information necessary for the facilitation of a record search in order to request a vital record online.


The DPHHS also attends to in-person and mail-in vital records requests. People who want to obtain a Montana vital record this way must write a detailed record request, then attach a valid ID and payment for the service. 


Finally, they must enclose the application in a stamped, self-addressed envelope and send it to:


Office of Vital Statistics,
111 North Sanders, Room 6,
P.O. Box 4210,
Helena, MT


Marriage and divorce records can be obtained by contacting the clerk of the district court where the event took place.

Montana Public Records: Criminal Records

Most criminal records in Colorado are organized into online record depositories and made publicly accessible as Criminal Background Reports. 


Each county has its own requirements for collecting and storing criminal records.

a warrant with handcuffs on it


As part of its responsibilities, the Criminal Records and Identification Services Section of the Montana Department of Justice compiles and makes public criminal history records. 


People who are interested in receiving criminal history records can do so in person, online, or by mail.

Montana Public Records Search: Criminal Records

The Montana Department of Justice compiles criminal records and makes them available to the public on request. 


Requests may be made in person, by mail, or online. In-person requests can be processed using fingerprinting services, name-based background checks, and fingerprint-based background checks.


For mail-in requests, interested individuals must write a detailed criminal record application and enclose it, along with a $25 payment, in a stamped, self-addressed envelope. 


Next, they must send the package to:


The Montana Department of Justice,
Criminal Records and Identification Services Section,
2225 11th Avenue,
Helena, MT

Montana Public Records: Court Records

Court documents are among the largest files that are open to access by the general public. 


All court transcripts and activities pertaining to a case are normally included in court records. 


They also consist of documents from the jury and the witnesses as well as court orders, sentencing records, case files, dockets, and minutes.

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Montana Public Records Search: Court Records

Records filed with the Montana Supreme Court are available to the public through the court's clerk. 


Interested parties may view the records at the Supreme Court Clerk's office. 


A court order must specifically permit the requester to inspect the documents elsewhere before they can "check out" the documents.


Alternatively, interested parties may find closed or active cases online through the Montana Supreme Court Case Public View Docket Search Tool. 

Montana Public Records: Inmate Records

Offenders who are incarcerated in any correctional facility at the state, city, or county level in Montana have inmate records created for them. 


These records contain their personal details as well as administrative details relating to their incarceration. 

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Per the Montana Public Records Law, members of the public may access these records.

Montana Public Records Search: Inmate Records

The Montana Department of Corrections maintains a free online search tool, which is also publicly available. 


People interested in finding Montana inmate records can perform a search on the platform after supplying the name and identification number of the inmate.

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