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Justice Court
(406) 258-3470
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Missoula County - Justice Court

Department: Justice Court
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Justice Court - FAQs


Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How can I contact your office?
Answer:
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 Blixt) 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 trip here.
Question: Why do I have to see a particular Judge and not the other?
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 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.
Question: What is the difference between a Jury and Non Jury trial?
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 judge.
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 Codes
Annotated is provided regarding the deferment of traffic offenses from an
individual’s driving record:
61-11-101. Report of convictions and suspension or revocation
of driver’s licenses – surrender of licenses.
(5) A court may not take any action, including deferring imposition
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 as well.
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 Bureau.
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
(406) 444-3289
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.

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