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Criminal Law in Montana

Fortunately, many Montana criminal defense attorneys offer free consultations so you can communicate and ask questions before making a hiring decision. To find a Montana criminal defense lawyer, search our site,, or ask the local bar association or friends for a referral.

Keep in mind that:

  • You need an attorney who is licensed in Montana.
  • You need a lawyer, who focuses his or her legal practice on criminal defense.

Your defense attorney will explain how to post bail, analyze your criminal case, create effective legal strategies, and robustly defend you in court or during plea agreement negotiations.

Because jail time may be possible and your entire future is at stake, we’ll provide important information, including:

  • Montana criminal laws;
  • What you need to know about criminal defense in Montana; and
  • How to work with your Montana criminal defense attorney.

Montana Criminal Laws

Criminal law seeks to protect individuals and the general public from harm.

Montana criminal laws are found in the Montana Criminal Code, which is Title 45 of the Montana Code Annotated 2011.

The Code includes all state crimes, including weapons crimes, stalking, trespass, assault, burglary, theft, falsifying evidence, DUI, arson, writing bad checks, money laundering, disorderly conduct, rape, bigamy, incest, arson, criminal trespass, kidnapping, elder abuse, lewd conduct, embezzlement, computer crimes, and child abuse.

Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations limits the time period during which a legal case can be filed. Your criminal defense attorney will be able to explain the statute of limitations in your case.

In the meantime, here are some examples of Montana statute of limitations:

  • Disorderly Conduct is 1 year (Mont. Code Ann. В§ 45-1-205(2)(b)).
  • Assault and Battery is 1 or 5 years, depending on the facts of the case (Mont. Code Ann. В§ 45-1-205(2)(a) or (b)).

Montana does have minimum sentences for the conviction of laws; however, there are no sentencing guidelines, per se. The specific sentence will be determined by the judge and based upon your criminal history, severity of the crime, and the circumstances of the crime.

  • Montana does have the death penalty.
  • Ask your criminal defense attorney for the potential sentence in your specific case.

What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense

If you or a loved one is being questioned about or has been arrested for a crime in Montana, everything is at risk – your future, wellbeing, family, liberty, money, and life – and this is what you need to know.

  • You need to be represented by a criminal defense lawyer.
  • Asking for an attorney doesn’t indicate that you’ve done anything wrong.
  • Regardless of whether you’re innocent or guilty, you need to be represented by a Montana defense lawyer.
  • Do not speak with the police, except to provide your name and ask for an attorney.
  • Be honest and open with your attorney, even if what you have to say looks bad.

How to Work with a Montana Criminal Defense Lawyer

Everything your lawyer asks of you, suggests to you, and any other actions he or she takes is to represent you and put forth the best and strongest defenses. Always keep this in mind when you choose how to act or react. You need to be a team player in your own defense.

This is what you need to do:

  • Follow your lawyer’s advice.
  • Explain what happened to your attorney – include the details you’d rather forget because they make you look bad.
  • Return all law firm phone calls or emails immediately.
  • Provide all requested information right away.
  • If your phone number or address changes, update your attorney immediately.
  • Answer your attorney’s questions, even if they challenge or anger you.
  • Be polite and know everything your attorney does is for your best interests, even if you don’t understand at the time.

For example, it is professional and appropriate for your attorney to be polite and cooperative with witnesses, the alleged victim, police officers, investigators, and the district attorney (prosecutor).

Bottom Line: If you have been questioned in or accused of a crime in Montana, you need a qualified criminal defense attorney immediately. There is too much at stake to take a “wait and see” approach.

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