Montana, like many states, grants its citizens the right to freely search and view a wide range of state records. This access is enshrined in the state’s constitution, but it’s also closely connected to the right to privacy.

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Navigating Montana Open Record Laws

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), established by the U.S. Federal Government in 1967, empowers citizens to seek most federal records, with only a few exceptions. In Montana, however, the interplay between the right to public knowledge and the right to privacy can sometimes create ambiguity. Determining which documents are accessible can be challenging, as it often depends on the interpretation of the record holder.

Understanding Document Accessibility

Montana state records span a broad spectrum, with varying degrees of restriction. Some are readily available to the public, while others are restricted to specific individuals or kept entirely confidential.

Streamlining Your Search

Locating the right jurisdiction or agency to access specific documents can be a time-consuming process. Consider utilizing third-party services that consolidate public information into a single search. While such services may come with a fee, it’s essential to note that government websites and services may also charge for document retrieval.

Exploring Montana Criminal Records

Montana’s criminal records encompass a wealth of information, some of which is public, while other data remains confidential. These records encompass investigation details, crime scene photographs, fingerprints, arrest records, convictions, and sentences.

Accessing Montana Criminal Records

Montana’s Criminal Justice Information Act, established in 1979, classifies criminal records into public and confidential categories. Public criminal information is initially provided by the originating agency or department and can be accessed by anyone willing to pay the requisite fee. This information includes records of arrests, offenses, bail details, convictions, and prosecutions.

Confidential Criminal Records

Confidential criminal records, on the other hand, are strictly limited to parties directly involved. Such records may comprise open criminal investigations, fingerprints, crime scene photographs, documents sealed by the court, and information safeguarding the identity of sexual assault victims.

Checking Criminal History in Montana

The Montana Department of Justice compiles the state’s criminal records, which can be accessed by the public through name-based background checks. These checks can be requested online, by mail, or in person.

Cost and Requirements

The Criminal History Online Public Record Search offers a single search for $20 or an annual registration for unlimited searches at $100. To initiate a search, you’ll need the individual’s first name, last name, and date of birth, with social security numbers and aliases being optional but potentially helpful in refining your search.

Mail-In Request for Montana Criminal Records

Required Information

To request Montana Criminal Records by mail, please include a money order or check for $15 in U.S. Funds along with the following information:

  • First and Last Name (required)
  • Birthdate (required)
  • Aliases (if known)
  • Social Security Number (if known)

Mailing Address:

Send your request to:

Montana Criminal Records PO Box 201403 Helena, Montana 59620

In-Person Request

For in-person requests, visit our office Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Please provide all the required information mentioned above. Our in-person address is:

Investigations Division 2225 11th Ave Helena, Montana 59601

Searching for Your Own Criminal Record

If you are searching for your own criminal record, various cities and counties in Montana can provide these records, but only for your specific jurisdiction and person (unless you include a signed waiver from a separate individual).

To request your criminal record in Missoula, use the keywords “Missoula Montana criminal record” in an internet search. You will find the City of Missoula page for requesting criminal records. Complete a criminal history request form and include a $15 check. You can mail or deliver it to the address listed on the form.

Seeking Mugshots? Try Third-Party Searches

If the above free search method for a specific mugshot proves inadequate, turning to third-party searches may yield more results.

Accessing Montana Arrest and Criminal Records: County Sheriff’s Offices and Custodians

Our comprehensive guide to arrests and criminal records in Montana features direct links to every County Sheriff’s office and criminal record custodian within the state.

Montana Juvenile Records: Public or Private?

According to the Montana Code, juvenile public records are generally accessible to the public, with some exceptions. However, upon reaching the subject’s 18th birthday, these records are sealed.

Inclusions in Montana Juvenile Public Records

Montana’s juvenile public records encompass law enforcement and juvenile court records. Notably, the following information remains accessible even after the records are sealed:

  • Medical information
  • DNA samples
  • Fingerprints
  • Unfulfilled court requirements
  • Traffic violations
  • Records related to youth as a sexual offender

Conducting a Free Montana Warrant Search

Unlike certain states, Montana lacks a statewide active warrant search function. Most cities and counties maintain warrant records, typically under the auspices of the sheriff’s department or municipal court. Each entity provides access to active warrant information online or via phone or in-person inquiries.

Locating Active Warrants

To ascertain the presence of an active warrant in a specific Montana city or county, employing a search engine can guide you to the appropriate website. For instance, if you suspect a warrant in the city of Helena, a web search using the query “City of Helena Montana arrest warrant” will lead you to the City of Helena’s government website Arrest Warrant page, which includes a link to the Active Warrants page.

Checking for Active Warrants in Helena, Montana

If the name of the individual you’re inquiring about is listed on the page above, it means there is an active warrant out for them. To resolve this, you need to contact the Helena Municipal Court during their business hours, Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, at 406-447-8466. They will assist you in scheduling an appointment to speak with a judge.

Verifying Warrant Status with Local Authorities

If your search in the city or county database does not yield an active warrant list, you can contact either the city or county sheriff’s office or the municipal court to obtain information about the warrant status.

How to Access the Montana Sex Offender Registry

In 1989, legislation pertaining to sexual offenders was enacted and subsequently updated in 1995. Under the Sexual or Violent Offender Registration Act, both violent and sexual offenders are required to register with the Montana Department of Corrections. This registry grants the public free access to the following information:

  • The offender’s first and last name
  • Aliases
  • Last known address
  • The agency the offender registered with
  • Offense
  • Court Case
  • Mugshot (Not included for most violent offenders)

Offenders remain on this registry for life unless the court deems them not to be a threat to the public and they haven’t committed any crimes for 10 years.

Searching the Sexual or Violent Offender Registry

You can search the Sexual or Violent Offender Registry using two methods: an offender basics search or a location search. An offender search is useful when you’re looking for a specific person. A location search can display all offenders within a specific radius of an address. For instance, searching for the State Capitol of Montana’s address, which is 1301 E 6th Ave, will reveal 123 offenders within a one-mile radius, with 55 of them being sex offenders.

Creating an Account for Montana Sexual and Violent Offender Alerts

If you want to receive alerts about new offenders in a particular area or changes to registry status through the Sexual and Violent Offenders Registry, you must create an account on the Montana Official State Website.

Accessing Complete Criminal Records in Montana

When you need more information about a sex offender or violent offender in Montana, you can access a complete criminal record for an individual through the Criminal History Online Public Record Search for a fee.

Understanding Montana Background Checks

Background checks play a crucial role in various scenarios, such as employee hiring, tenant screening, and business partnerships. Conducting a background check can yield information like:

  • Residence History
  • Criminal Record
  • Past and Present Employment Details
  • Driving Records

A criminal background check encompasses items like arrest records, convictions, and jail or prison sentences. If you only require a criminal record, following the process to obtain documents through the Criminal History Online Public Record Search should provide the necessary records.

Fingerprint-Based Background Check with Multistate Results

A fingerprint-based background check is available, but it requires permission from the subject. The results for this background check include information from additional states, such as:

  • Alaska
  • Idaho
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

To request this check, send the fingerprint request card along with a $10 check or money order made out to US Funds to:

Montana Criminal Records 2225 11th Ave Helena, Montana 59601

For more comprehensive background checks that include other specifics mentioned above, private background check companies can provide detailed information for a fee. These services often include a criminal record, which incurs a separate fee through the government site alone.

Accessing Montana Court Records

Montana’s Judicial Branch comprises various courts, including:

  • The Montana Supreme Court – Handles final appeals
  • District Courts – Hear criminal and civil cases and certain appeals
  • Water Court – Jurisdiction over claims regarding water rights
  • Municipal, City, and Justice Courts – Handle misdemeanor cases, civil issues under $12,000, small claims, etc.
  • Workers’ Compensation Court – Resolves disputes related to workers’ compensation
  • Youth Court – Adjudicates juvenile cases
  • Treatment Courts – Handle cases involving individuals addicted to alcohol or drugs

Unless expunged or sealed by the court, court records are public information and can be obtained by the public.

Finding Montana Court Records – Name & Case Search

Active or closed case documents for the Montana Supreme Court from 2007 to the present can be found on the Supreme Court Public View Docket Search. For cases between 1979 and 2007, docket information is available in the search, but no documents or transcripts are available online. The cases and documents available online are accessible at no charge.

To find an active Supreme Court case, you can search by the attorney, parties’ names, or case number. The case information includes docket details and a complete list of actions with associated documents that can be viewed, downloaded, and/or printed.

Locating court documents for other courts across the state may require additional steps. The Montana Judicial Branch website provides a Court Locator to identify courts serving specific cities and counties. Once you locate a specific court, you can find more information about accessing court documents. For example, searching for “4th Judicial District Montana” leads to the Missoula County Website Copies and Records Searches page. Court documents can be requested through the Clerk of District Court by email, fax, or mail at the following address:

Contact Information

Address: 200 W Broadway Missoula, Montana 59802

Email: [email protected]

Fax: 406-258-4899

Requesting Court Documents

When sending a request by mail, include a self-addressed envelope with a stamp. The clerk will inform you of the document costs, which can be paid by check, credit, or debit card.

Third-Party Searches

Considering the numerous Montana courts, a third-party private search may prove helpful when looking for court documents.

Federal Court Records

One federal district court is located in Montana, and you can search federal court records via the PACER site. Case records cost $0.10 per page with a maximum charge of $3.00 for a single document.

Checking Montana Bankruptcy Records

Montana bankruptcy matters are handled by the District of Montana United States Bankruptcy Court, accessible through the Pacer site.

Public Computers Available at Court Offices

Public computers are available at four court offices:

Mike Mansfield Federal Courthouse

    • Address: 400 N Main St, 2nd Floor, Butte, Montana 59701

James F. Battin Federal Courthouse

    • Address: 2601 2nd Ave North, Billings, Montana 59101

Missouri River Federal Courthouse

    • Address: 125 Central Ave West, Great Falls, Montana 59404

Russell Smith Federal Courthouse

    • Address: 2001 East Broadway, Missoula, Montana 59802

Documents can be viewed for free on these terminals and printed for $0.10 per page.

Archived Bankruptcy Cases

Closed and archived bankruptcy cases can also be found on the National Archives Court Records page.

Inmate Records in Montana

Accessing inmate records in Montana is crucial for those monitoring incarcerated individuals, including details such as their name, inmate number, location, jail or prison term, and parole information.

Finding Recently Arrested or Jailed Individuals

City and county jails are managed locally, and many offer the ability to search recent arrests and bookings.

To search for inmate records in a specific county, you can find information on the county’s website or contact details. For instance, a web search for “Broadwater County Montana arrests” leads to the Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office Inmate Roster page.

You can locate specific inmates by name or view and sort all inmates by name, date, current status, or release date.

How to Find Inmate Records When Online Searches Are Unavailable

If a city or county jail or sheriff’s office does not have an online search of arrests and inmates, calling the local jail or law enforcement office may provide the information needed.

Finding Federal and State Prison Inmate Records

Montana Department of Corrections Inmate Search: The Montana Department of Corrections manages prisoners housed in all five state prisons. An Offender Search is provided on the website with the availability to look up an inmate by Department of Corrections Identification Number, first name, or last name.

Key Inmate Information: Offender information includes ID numbers, personal details, descriptions, convictions, sentences, etc.

Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate Search: To find an inmate in federal prison, the Find an Inmate page is located on the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ website. Many options to search federal inmates on this site are available, such as record numbers, but all that is necessary is a first and last name. This record search will pull up the same type of information as the state search: location, offense, incarceration term, etc.

Montana Vital Records Office

The official repository for Montana’s birth and death records is the Montana Office of Vital Records.

Vital Statistics Analysis Unit: Distinct from the Montana Vital Records, the Vital Statistics Analysis Unit (VSAU) does not handle vital event registration or certificate issuance. Instead, it compiles and analyzes pre-existing data on vital events, producing related reports.

Accessing Montana Vital Records: While much of the information contained in Montana’s vital records is public, certain criteria must be met to obtain certified copies. Requestors must demonstrate their identity or their approved relationship to the subject.

Exploring Montana Marriage and Divorce Records

For those looking to access Montana’s vital records, third-party search websites often cross-reference government sources and online platforms, such as social media, to provide additional information when access to official records is restricted.

Montana Divorce Rates by County: This graph illustrates divorce rates in Montana’s counties over the past five years, based on estimates from the United States Census Bureau.

The divorce population rates of each County are shown on an outline map of Montana with its Counties based on Census Bureau forecasts year 2021.

Cost of Birth and Death Searches

  • Birth Search: $10
  • Death Search: $13

Note: Additional fees may apply if the date of birth or death is unknown.

Requesting Certified Copies by Mail

If you prefer to mail a request for a certified copy of a certificate, please send your request to Montana Vital Records at:

Address: 111 North Sanders Room 6 PO Box 4210 Helena, Montana 59604

Your request must include:

  • A Birth Certificate Application or a Death Certificate Application
  • A signed and notarized copy of the approved identification
  • A check made payable to Montana Vital Records

Fees for Certified Certificates

  • Certified Birth Certificates: $12
  • Certified Death Certificates: $16

Accessing Records Through County Clerks

County clerks throughout the state also have access to vital records. Each county in Montana has a specific procedure for accessing certified copies of records. Alternatively, you may be directed to use VitalChek. For instance, if you are looking for a Cascade County Montana Birth Certificate, you can visit the Cascade County Court and Recorder’s Office website. Here, you can find documents and instructions for requesting birth and death certificates, along with other limited Montana state records directly from the county.


How do I perform a free Montana state records search for warrants, divorces, and marriages?

To conduct a free Montana state records search for warrants, divorces, and marriages, you can visit the official Montana state government website or contact the relevant state agencies. Some records may be available online, while others may require you to make inquiries in person or by phone.

Are all Montana state records available for free online?

Not all Montana state records are available for free online. While some basic information may be accessible without charge, certain records like divorce and marriage certificates may involve fees for obtaining certified copies. It’s essential to check the specific agency or website for detailed information on accessing these records.

What information do I need to perform a Montana state records search for divorces and marriages?

To search for Montana divorce and marriage records, you typically need to provide the full names of the individuals involved and, if possible, the approximate date or location of the event. Having additional details such as county names can be helpful in narrowing down your search.

How can I check if I have any outstanding warrants in Montana?

To check for outstanding warrants in Montana, you can contact the Montana Department of Justice or visit their official website. Keep in mind that warrant information may not always be publicly accessible online, and it’s advisable to contact the relevant authorities for accurate and up-to-date information.

Can I obtain certified copies of divorce and marriage records through a free Montana state records search?

While you can search for divorce and marriage records for free, obtaining certified copies of these records usually involves a fee. You’ll need to follow the specific procedures outlined by the Montana Vital Records office or the county clerk’s office to request and pay for certified copies of these documents.