What are arrest records and arrest warrants?
Criminal Justice Information Act enacted in 1979 provides for the segregation of the crime history data held by the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) into public and confidential. Defined in MCA 44-5-103 (13) publicly available arrest records include all information that can be offered for non criminal justice purposes in keeping with the laws of MT, details on court proceedings and records, information on sentences and verdict including convictions, deferred judgments and prosecution, post conviction status and proceedings and information from the criminal and judicial agencies that were involved in handling the case such as:
- The initial offense report as provided for in ARM 23.12.201
- Initial arrest records
- Information on the issue of MT active warrants
- Bail records
- Jail rosters
- Statistic information pertaining to crime and criminals
- Any information that is disseminated with the intent of securing public help in apprehending the accused
No restrictions have been imposed on the dissemination of public data. This means that this information is held indefinitely and it can be disclosed to just about any applicant. In fact, the FOIA of Montana mentions that state agencies which prepare/maintain this data must make it available for public inspection at reasonable times and places; albeit, they are allowed to charge a fee for this facility.
Arrest warrants and their significance in crime history information
As stated above, information on active warrants from Montana is routinely made a part ofbackground reports and is of particular importance to applicants who are seeking this data for justice related reasons and also for those who are motivated by non criminal justice purposes to find these details. Active warrants signify the start of criminal proceedings against an accused.
Of course, perpetrators can also be placed under arrests without warrants. However, these detentions are restrictive in nature and have to be effected only under limited circumstances. As opposed to this, MT outstanding warrants allow police officers to cross county and state lines in pursuit of the criminal.
What is more is that these directives do not go out of effect unless the probable cause they are based on no longer holds valid or if the prosecution places the request for quashing the warrant. So, even when an offender cannot be immediately arrested, the availability of an outstanding warrant to his name means that the case is kept open till he is apprehended.
The issue procedure of arrest warrants is also of interest to anybody keen on crime related inquiries. Montana active warrants are released only when the judiciary concurs with the police on the likelihood of the crime having been commissioned by the accused. This determination is typically made on the basis of the complaint/ information filed by the sheriff’s office but in some scenarios witness deposition may also be called for.
The final results of the procedure is a legal order that is unrestricted in its reach and powers and one that adheres to the Bill of Rights of the United States. The judge who sanctions the arrest warrant can impose certain liberties and conditions on it.
How do I search for Montana arrest records and warrants?
One way to initiate a warrant search in Montana is through the state judiciary. Given the open records policy of the state, it is possible to seek information on arrest records and active warrants from the DCI as well as the local judicial agencies. In fact, when it comes to the issue of arrest warrants, it is recommended that you connect with the tribunal that issued the order.
Although the opinions and briefs of the Montana Supreme Court are routinely put up online, the same cannot be said about the court dockets of other tribunals. So, if you have information on the judicial entity that handled a specific case or even the pre-warrant hearing, you can contact the court in person. A directory of all judicial establishments in Montana has been given on http://courts.mt.gov/Courts.
You will need to submit your warrant search request through mail or in person and you may be charged a fee for availing the service. For more information, you can connect with the Clerk of the Montana Supreme Court, Room 323, Justice Building, 215 N. SandersP.O. Box 203003, Helena, Montana 59620.
Montana crime statistics
From 1999 up to 2008, an estimated 312,000 criminal complaints were filed in Montana. This puts the annual crime average at nearly 31,000 cases and shows that a criminal infraction occurs in the state every 16 minutes. In almost half of all cases filed the victim complains of being near his home or office when the incident occurred.
About 2700 criminal cases lodged each year are against violent crimes and this includes nearly 20 homicides and about 250 sexual assault cases. In terms of property crimes, thefts have the highest frequency. Over the years, while there was a drop in overall criminal activity of almost 30%, violent crime rates surged by over 25%.