Montana Warrant Search – Outstanding & Active Warrants in MT


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To understand the process of issuing an arrest warrant or any other legal process that is used for the detention of an accused, you need to refer to the Montana Criminal Code, section 46-6-211. It is stated herein that warrants for arrests may be issued upon the filing of a charge as provided by 46-11-201. A summons may be issued if the complaint is registered against a corporation and when the petition is executed by a civilian.

More than one active warrant or summons can be issued based on a single affidavit. If two or more defendants are named in the affidavit, one arrest warrant will be issued for every suspect. It seldom so happens that a summons and a warrant are both issued against one person in the same case at the same time. The chronology of legal process issue follows a strict protocol. When the magistrate has reason to believe that the summons will be honored by the individual in whose name it has been issued, a warrant will not be released against this individual.

Treating a summons that has been disobeyed

Pursuant to Montana Code 46-6-212, failure to heed to a notice of appearance can result in the issue of an arrest warrant against the person in question. A magistrate will issue an active warrant commanding that an individual be detained once:

  • He is satisfied that the person will not appear as commanded
  • When the summons cannot be delivered
  • If the defendant has a history of not obeying judicial processes

If a corporation is being summoned to court, any disobedience on the part of the office bearers of the organization will be treated in accordance with 46-12-204 and a plea of not guilty will automatically be entered on behalf of the establishment. Subsequently, the matter will proceed to trial without any further issue of legal processes.

The execution of outstanding warrants and other legal processes used in conjunction with it

While a summons is to be served personally by personnel of the judiciary or a local justice agency or it is to be sent by first class mail, when it comes to arrest warrants, their execution is left to the local law enforcement agency. Once a warrant is issued, it is sent to the office of the sheriff and from here it finds it ways into the hands of the deputies who have territorial jurisdiction.

However, if this order cannot be executed within a reasonable time after its issue, the directive is deemed as pending and information on this outstanding warrant is sent out to all police officers across the nation through the central crime database maintained by the FBI. At this point, the warrant can be executed not only outside the issuing county but also the state.

Given the almost unlimited authority granted to law enforcement agents by an arrest warrant, bench warrants might appear tame in comparison. These orders are also issued when the judiciary wants a person to be detained. However, they are limited to be executed within the bounds of the county that they are issued in.

Search warrants, on the other hand, have traits of both bench as well as active warrants. Like the former, they are restrictive in nature and will lapse if not executed within a stipulated period. However, like arrest warrants, their release is always based on a petition which is meant to show probable cause.

Finding arrest records in Montana

Although crime history information offered to the public at large is limited to felony and misdemeanor cases that resulted in a conviction and those that are still in the trial stage, this is enough to get you details on any warrants that may exist in the name of your subject. However, it would help to understand here that if information on arrest records and warrants have been expunged these will not show in the background report and such details will only be available to law enforcement agencies.

There are two options to get a warrant search done through the Montana Department of Justice; you can either use their online search tool available at https://app.mt.gov/choprs/or mail in your request for a name based search to Montana Criminal Records, 302 North Roberts – 4th Floor, P.O. Box 201403, Helena, MT 59620-1403. Inquiries sent through mail can include requests for both name based as well as fingerprint searches. However, in case of the latter, the applicant has to assume the responsibility of sending usable prints.

You can also access crime history data through the office of the clerk of court in your county. Because this judicial department is in charge of recording and managing the court dockets, you can find information on just about any criminal matter through this agency. In fact, the court records can also reflect verdicts given by the civil tribunals. If it is a generic warrant search that you need, try finding the most wanted lists offered on the websites of some of the sheriffs' departments.