Montana Arrest Records and Warrant Search

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Montana Arrest Records & Warrant Search

What are arrest records?

“Arrests records” is the popular terms used to indicate the crime history information held by state and local justice agencies. The statewide repository of information on criminal matters is kept by the Department of Justice. The Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) which is a part of the agency plays a crucial role in meeting the goals of public safety set by the DOJ. It is also integral to many aspects of law enforcement and criminal processing in the state. The division comprises of 4 branches of which two are of particular interest to anybody who is interested in arrest records from MT and information on active warrants.

The Investigative Bureau: The agents of the Bureau work in a multitude of capacities; from offering support to Montana Fire Marshalls to investigating Medicaid fraud and even handling cases that involve internet and computer fraud. Of particular importance is that fact that the IB is responsible for maintaining the sex offender registry of Montana, which is an online searchable database of violent and predatory offenders.

Criminal Records and Identification Services Section (CRISS): This wing of the DCI is responsible for maintaining the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) which is the repository used to run crime scene fingerprints against millions of images collected through the last several years from all law enforcement agencies in the state. The database is also linked to the FBI crime repository.

The Section has also been charged with gathering other crime related information from judicial and law enforcement agencies in the state and it exercises authority over the dissemination of this data to justice agencies as well as applicants who are lawfully permitted to access this information.

Warrant searches offered by the DCI

CRISS offers inquiries on active warrants and arrest records from MT that are based on the personal identifiers of the subject as well as those that yield results based on fingerprint matches. Needless to say, the response received to the latter is more accurate since it is a positive match as opposed to the possible matches found through a name based warrant search.

Fingerprint inquiries can be initiated by the subject of the record or legislatively authorized agencies including law enforcement departments while name based searches are open to all. Furthermore, it must be understood here that criminal history data is divided into confidential and public with the latter being the lowdown on conviction cases only.

When requested for non criminal justice purposes; for instance, by individual applicants and commercial firms that are not legislatively given the right to request complete criminal history details, CRISS will only release limited crime history information that is restricted to what is publicly available. On the other hand, crime history records when sought for justice purposes will be responded to with a complete criminal profile of the subject.

The data is thus often used to make sentencing determinations, licensing decisions when issuing weapons permits, for background checks of employees who will be working in the healthcare, medical and school services sectors, for assisting in the prosecution of an accused and even when granting probation or parole.

What are arrest warrants?

Montana Code Annotated, Section 46-6-21 provides an explanation of the procedure followed for the issuance of arrest warrants. These directives are issued in criminal matters by judicial entities that have the authority to oversee the trial of such cases. Typically, the police will approach the court of the magistrate for an active warrant in Montana. However, as the case is bound over to a higher tribunal, it is possible for the judge of this court to issue an arrest warrant as well.

Section 46-6-21 states that an active warrant can only be issued if it appears from the complaint filed by the police in court that a criminal infraction did occur and that there is a strong possibility that it was commissioned by the suspect named in the petition. This determination of probable cause can be made exclusively on the basis of the sworn and signed complaint or through the examination of witnesses.

The court has it in its discretion to issue a summons instead of an arrest warrant if it is reasonably known that the order for appearance will be obeyed. Generally, when the crime in question is not too serious and there is no history on the part of the suspect of disobeying tribunal directives, a summons will be released in lieu of a warrant. This will also be the case if the prosecution specifically requests the magistrate to issue a summons instead of an arrest warrant.

The serving of outstanding warrants from Montana

The powers of peace officers working under the provisions of outstanding warrants have been discussed in MCA 46-6-215 and 216. These sections clarify that arrest warrants are to be directed at all law enforcement agents in the state. Furthermore, these orders can be executed by a member of the justice community in any part of the state, including outside the county in which the arrest warrant was granted.

However, active warrants that are connected to violations of civic or traffic ordinances (not amounting to a felony) can only be served within the city limits, unless otherwise provided for by the law or authorized by the magistrate. The last phrase shows that the sitting judge can impose specific restrictions and liberties on arrests as well as the eventual release of the detainee.

For instance, the magistrate may authorize night time service even for warrants that have been issued in cases pertaining to Class C and D misdemeanors while stating the bail amount that will have to be paid to secure release even when the matter in question is a felony. While executing an arrest warrant, the police officer who is taking the accused into custody need not have the original order with him.

However, the defendant will have to be apprised of the fact that there is an outstanding warrant from MT out in his name under the provisions of which he is being detained. This requirement is voided if the police officers have to pursue the offender in order to effect his arrest and also when informing the accused will imperil the chances of detaining this individual. Yet, after arrests, the suspects will be shown a copy of the warrant as soon as practical.

How to search for an inmate in the Montana Prison System?

The Montana Department of Corrections which takes charge of offenders after the sentencing is the keeper of all information pertaining to prisoners who are serving time in the state’s penitentiaries and other correctional facilities. The agency offers the internet based facility to conduct inquiries on inmates. Although the results of such an investigation cannot replace a background check, it is a good way to quickly get the heads up on whether the subject of your inquiry has recently done time for a criminal act.

You will only need the first and last name of the prisoner to find information about him. However, since this is a personal identifier search, the more the information offered about the subject, the greater will be the accuracy of the results. So, it is also advisable to also use the gender, date of birth, race and offender status to get more accurate results. If you have the DOC number of the inmate that is all you would need to get a pertinent response to your inquiry.

To use the online tool offered by the DOC, go to and type in the required information. Next, simply click on search to find the results of your inquiry. You will be given the full name of the convict along with his DOC number, a photograph, charge details, incarceration status and facility and release and parole dates. Alternatively, you can connect with the DOC by visiting them in person or writing to them at 1539 11th Ave, P.O. Box 201301Helena, MT 59620. Victim’s can register with the agency to receive immediate updates about any changes in the status of a specific inmate, such as release or the granting of clemency. To avail this service, call the DOC on 888-223-6332

Who can search for arrest records and warrants in MT?

The open records policy followed by the state of Montana means that anybody can access crime history information in the state. However, a distinct differentiation has been made between information that can be offered to the general public under the Criminal Information laws and the data which can only be accessed for criminal justice purposes.

Hence, a civilian applicant can just expect to receive information on cases with a conviction or deferred judgment. Matters that were dismissed through the course of the trial and information pertaining to the criminal processes brought to use in such cases will find no mention in the background report.

How to Request Records under the Montana Public Records Act?

It is possible to launch both online and mailed in inquiries for information on MT arrest records and active warrants. The DCI offers name based checks online at For multiple inquires, you can register with the site. However, if you only want to conduct a single warrant search, click on the “public users” tab and the “start service” button. You will need the full name of the individual and the date of birth, at the least, to initiate the inquiry. A social security number is optional but it can greatly enhance the accuracy of the results.

It is also possible to include 4 aliases in the search for no additional cost. You will also be asked to furnish information about yourself, the applicant to comply with MCA 44-5-215. You will be charged $11.50 for every inquiry which can be paid by credit card. A monthly bill will be generated for registered users.

To request information on criminal history through mail, you can send information for a name based inquiry or the fingerprints to Montana Criminal Records, 2225 11th Avenue, P.O. Box 201403, Helena, MT 59620-1403. Further information can be sought by writing to the agency at [email protected] or calling them on 406-444-3625. Mailed in warrant searches are charged at $10 per inquiry whether it is name based or fingerprint based search. Submit the required information along with a self addressed envelope and a check or money order for the fee.