Frequently Asked Questions

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  • What is this $100 contempt charge on my fine?

    Justice Court does not send bills to remind you of your fine payments. Instead, the court will send you Fail To Pay Notices when you are late on making payments. The court will assess a $100 contempt fee if you do not make your payment by the court-ordered deadline given on the notice.
  • How do I request a record or background check?

    Most Justice Court records are public record and can be made available to the general public, however, there is a $10 charge, per name, to perform the record search. Copies of records are charged at $1.00 per page for the first ten pages and $.50 per page for every page after ten. Original records can not be removed from the office. Search fee is waived for government agencies as long as we receive the request on agency letterhead. Record searches are done as time permits. A request form is available in doc or pdf format.
  • I've been sent to collections. Can I get my license re-instated? Do I have a warrant?

    All fines must be paid in full to Collection Bureau Services before we release the suspension on a license. Collection Bureau Services can be reached at 406-721-4454. To find out if your warrant is still active, call the court at 406-258-3470. 
  • Why did the judge suspend my driver’s license?

    You failed to make a payment, appear at a hearing, or comply with a sentence. When this happens, the court sends a warning notice with a date to take action by. Failure to do this may result in driver's license suspension and a warrant being issued.
  • My license is suspended. Can I get a work permit?

    If you are suspended for failure to appear or failure to pay fines, no. You'll need to contact the Court where you are suspended. If you are suspended for a DUI, contact Drivers Services in Helena and they will advise on what to do to get a work permit.
  • How do I get a probationary driver's license?

    Contact Records and Driver Control Bureau for more information.

    Records and Driver Control Bureau
    PO Box 201430
    Helena, MT 59601
    (406) 444-3289

  • How do I get a Public Defender?

    If the charge you are faced with meets certain criteria, you may be appointed a Public Defender by the court. When you appear in front of the Judge and either enter a not guilty plea or simply say you would like to speak to an attorney, the judge will ask if you can afford an attorney. If you are unable to afford an attorney, the judge may appoint one for you.

    When you leave the courtroom, you will be given a referral to the Public Defender’s office. The Public Defender’s office will have you fill out paperwork to determine if you qualify for their services. You cannot get a Public Defender without first seeing the judge.
  • What is an OMNI hearing?

    ng is set as a deadline for certain requirements to the Court in preparation for a Jury Trial. In addition, the actual trial will be set at this hearing.
  • What is the difference between a Jury and Non Jury trial?

    A jury trial in Justice Court is a trial where 6 registered voters have been randomly selected to hear the case and will make a decision of your guilt or innocence. You may be required to pay for the cost of the trial depending upon the outcome including the jury costs, witnesses and the cost of prosecution. A jury trial may be set as far out as 4 or 5 months from the time of your initial appearance in front of the Judge.

    A Judge Trial (or Bench Trial) in Justice Court is a trial where the judge alone will make a decision of your guilt or innocence based on evidence presented at the trial. You still may be required to pay for the cost of the trial, but only for the cost for witnesses and prosecution if you are found guilty.
  • What happens when I see the Judge?

    The Judge will ask you for a Guilty or Not Guilty plea. If you decide to plead Guilty, the Judge will sentence you then. You may explain to the judge the circumstances of why you are guilty, but you cannot plead guilty and explain the the judge why you are not guilty.

    It is also your right to a trial. Upon entry of a Not Guilty plea, the Judge will ask you for the trial type, Non-Jury or Jury, and a trial will be set. Non-Jury trials are set about 6-8 weeks from your appearance. Jury trials take much longer to set and require at least two pre-trial hearings.
  • Why do I have to see a particular Judge and not the other?

    When agencies bring tickets into the Court, they are entered into the computer which randomly decides which Court (Judge) you will need to appear before. You are not able to choose the Judge you want to see.
  • When can I see the Judge?

    The issuing agency usually will write an appearance date on your ticket 10 days from when you were issued the ticket. Since Judges are randomly selected by the computer, the appearance date written on the ticket may not match up with the specific judge you’ve been assigned to, so it is recommended that you contact the Court at 258-3470 for further information regarding your appearance.

    You may appear on traffic tickets at 1:30pm on a first-come, first-served basis. At 2:30pm the court processes in-custody arraignments via video link from the Missoula County Detention Facility. After those appearances are complete, the court sees criminal cases and other cases as needed. If you have any questions, it is best to call ahead at 258-3470 to check so you don't waste a trip.