Department: Justice Court
Justice Court - FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions
- Question: How can I contact your office?
Our address is as follows:
- Justice Court
Department # 1 or 2 (specify which Department)
200 W. Broadway
Missoula, MT 59802
- Phone: (406) 258-3470 for Dept. 1
- Phone: (406) 258-3470 for Dept. 2
- Question: Do you provide your forms online?
- Answer: We have some forms available. Visit our Forms page for a list of forms.
- Question: When can I see the Judge?
- Answer: Justice Court I (Judge Odlin) has court on odd NUMBERED
days (1,3,5....) of the month. Justice Court II (Judge Orzech) has
court on even NUMBERED days (2,4,6…). 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
- Question: Why do I have to see a particular Judge and not the
- Answer: 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.
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- Question: What happens when I see the Judge?
- Answer: Some offenses are mandatory appearances before 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
- 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.
- Question: What is the difference between a Jury and Non Jury
- Answer: 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.
- Question: What is an OMNI hearing?
- Answer: The OMNI (OMNIBUS) hearing 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.
- Question: How do I get a Public Defender?
- Answer: 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
- Question: Can I get my ticket deferred?
- Answer: Not here. It is Justice Court’s policy to not defer
traffic tickets. There is no way to track a deferred ticket(s)
between the Court’s in Montana. Most traffic tickets will come off
your record after three years.
- The information in the following excerpt from the Montana
Annotated is provided regarding the deferment of traffic offenses
individual’s driving record:
- 61-11-101. Report of convictions and suspension or
of driver’s licenses – surrender of licenses.
- (5) A court may not take any action, including deferring
of judgment, on a conviction that would prevent a conviction for any
violation of a state or local traffic control law or ordinance,
except a parking law or ordinance, in any type of motor vehicle,
from appearing on the person’s driving record.
- Question: How will this ticket affect my insurance?
- Answer: Justice Court does not actively report traffic tickets to
insurance companies. Insurance companies have access to your driving
record and make their own decisions on how traffic offenses will
affect your rates. We have no input or control on what insurance
companies will do.
- Question: What is the ACT program?
- Answer: ACT stands for Assessment, Course, Treatment. It is a
program required by Montana Law for those convicted of Driving Under
the Influence (DUI or DUI per se) and can be ordered in other cases
- Question: What is the MDD program?
- Answer: MDD stands for Montana Dangerous Drug program and is
required for convictions for drug related offenses.
- Question: How do I get a probationary driver's license?
- Answer: A first DUI offender must have the approval of the Court,
be enrolled in ACT, have a valid Montana drivers license and pay a
$100 reinstatement fee must be paid to Records and Driver Control
- A person with two or more DUI offenses must wait 90 days and
apply directly to the Driver Control Bureau. In addition to other
strict conditions, the person is required to be in compliance with
the Court order and complete alcohol and drug treatment.
- You may also need to satisfy other conditions as well.
- Contact Records and Driver Control Bureau for more information.
- Records and Driver Control Bureau
303 North Roberts
Helena, MT 59601
- Question: My license is suspended. Can I get a work permit?
- Answer: 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.
- Question: Why did the judge suspend my driver’s license?
- Answer: When the court sent you a Fail To Pay Notice for not
making a payment on time, the notice gives a warning if you do not
pay your fine or see the judge by a prescribed date. The warning
states: “All delinquent payments must be made immediately or a
warrant of arrest may be issued and your driver’s license will be
suspended.” Your driver’s license may have been suspended for never
making an initial appearance or failing to make subsequent
appearances on your ticket.
- Question: What do I do to get a criminal charge that was deferred off my record?
- Answer: If your sentence stipulated your conviction would be
deferred, you will need to petition the Court at the end of the
deferred period to have it removed from your record.
- Question: What is this $100 contempt charge on my fine?
- Answer: 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. The judge may also issue a warrant for
your arrest and suspend your driver’s license for failing to pay
your fines on time.
Certain files with outstanding fines are now being sent to a
Collection Agency for further action. Once this happens, you will need
to deal directly with the agency to resolve the issue. Don't let unpaid
fines have a negative impact on your credit. Take care of them NOW!