skip to the main content area of this page
Missoula County Attorney
(406)258-4737
Missoula County Seal and image of areas around the City.

Missoula County - County Attorney

Department: Missoula County Attorney
Missoula County Home

Missoula County Attorney - FAQs


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What should I do if I think someone has committed a crime?
Answer: If the crime is in progress, you should immediately call the 9-1-1 dispatch center and provide the dispatcher with all pertinent information. If the crime is over or is continuing on an on-going basis, you should call the 9-1-1 dispatch center but immediately advise the dispatcher that you do not have an emergency and, as soon as the dispatcher can talk to you, ask that an officer contact you to conduct an investigation.
Q: How do I find out when someone in jail will appear in court?
Answer: People who have just been arrested and are still in custody in the Missoula County Detention Center make their appearances Monday-Friday at 2:30 P.M. in Justice Court. If an individual in custody has been charged with a felony, the case will usually be moved to District Court after approximately 3 weeks from the time of arrest and then any appearances will take place according to the following schedule:
You can find out the department number of a case and the date of the next court appearance by contacting the Clerk of the District Court.
Q: How can I get some free legal help?
Answer: If you are charged with a crime where a jail sentence is a possible punishment and you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you will probably qualify for the appointment of an attorney at public expense to represent you. You should ask the court to appoint a public defender in your case. However, you should know that if you are eventually convicted of a crime in that case the court may order you to reimburse Missoula County for the cost of your public defender services.
If you are seeking legal advice on a civil matter, you can contact Montana Legal Services, ASUM Legal Services (for University of Montana students) at 243-6213, or utilize some of the sources listed on our "Links" page. You may also find the website MontanaLawHelp particularly useful.

General Legal Questions

Q: Someone owes me money and I want to sue them. Can your office sue them on my behalf?
Answer: We are not a private law firm and we cannot sue people on your behalf. If the money owed to you is less than $3000, a way to handle this situation is to file a Small Claims action with Justice Court located on the 3rd floor of the County Courthouse. Before filing a court case however, you are required to send a certified demand letter to the person you want to sue asking them for the money owed by a certain date. Once you receive no response to that letter, the clerks in Justice Court can give you the proper paper work to file the claim. Please visit the Justice Court clerks for all appropriate paperwork and further instructions for filing this action.
Q: I am new to the landlord business and have a tenant who has not paid me rent. Can I change the locks on the door to the apartment in order to make them pay rent?
Answer: Changing the locks on the doors probably is the worst thing you could do. Doing so will subject you to civil liability, and the tenant would be able to terminate the rental agreement and possibly recover up to three months rent from you as the landlord. It is a good idea to bring an action in small claims court to recover the rent owed and/or evict the tenant, rather than taking matters into your own hands. As a landlord consult a private attorney with regards to your rights and duties as a landlord.

For more information on the Residential Tenant and Landlord Act go to http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/mca_toc/70_24.htm. For the Residential Tenants’ Security Deposit Act, please refer to http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/mca_toc/70_25.htm. Also, a guide for landlords and sample letters are available at http://www.montanalawhelp.org.
Q: Can my landlord turn off my heat, water, electricity or gas because I am a month behind on my rent?
Answer: No. The Residential Landlord and Tenant Act of 1977 prohibits a landlord from taking such action. However, the landlord may seek a judgment in small-claims court for nonpayment of rent and other monies owed.

For more information, please refer to the Residential Tenant and Landlord Act at http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/mca_toc/70_24.htm. For the Residential Tenants’ Security Deposit Act, please refer to http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/mca_toc/70_25.htm. Also, a guide for landlords and renters, along with sample letters are available at http://www.montanalawhelp.org.
Q: I just purchased a used car a few days ago, and now it won't run. Is there a "Lemon Law" in Montana?
Answer: There is only a "Lemon Law" for NEW vehicles sold in the State of Montana. If you are having problems with a recently purchased used vehicle, your rights are limited. It is best to consult a private attorney with regard to your rights under Montana's Consumer Protection Act.
Q: What can I do when a mechanic tells me that the work on my car will cost one thing but, when I return to pick up the car, additional "unapproved" work has been performed and the shop expects to be paid for it?
Answer: The Montana Consumer Protection Office has provisions governing vehicle repairs. Most significantly, upon request by the consumer, the repair business shall provide a written estimate for all repairs in excess of $50. After supplying a written estimate, the firm may not charge in excess of 10% of the estimate or $25, whichever is greater, without the consumer's consent.

Site Navigation


More Information

Image of a badge for Sexual or Violent Offender Registry
Visit the Sexual or Violent Offender Registry on the Montana's Official State website.

    Image show the text for Correctional Offender Network Search
Visit the Correctional Offender Network on Montana's Official State website.