Montana Expungement

Expungement in Montana

Expungement, as defined by the United States, is the legal destruction of criminal records and arresting files. After a record has been expunged, it cannot be accessed by the public or local law enforcement for any reason. A person is then free to claim that there was no arrest and no conviction. Applying for jobs, financial aid, professional licensing, and credit can all be done without fear of a negative background check. The records may be accessed under unusual circumstances, as requested by the court. Unlike most states, Montana does not permit the expungement of criminal records or files in the same manner. All records relating to sexual or violent crimes that have been reversed may be released from any law enforcement agency, state government agency, court, or local government agency. According to Montana law 44-6-107, all DNA information indexed as a result of a felony offense of a sexual or violent nature, or an adjudicated juvenile offense of the same caliber, will be expunged upon conviction reversal.

Because expungement in Montana differs from other states, so does eligibility for expungement in Montana. If all other requirements are met, reversed sexual or violent felonies or misdemeanors may be eligible. Adult felony convictions and adjudicated juvenile convictions for violent or sexual crimes that have been overturned may also be eligible for DNA sample exclusion. Deferred impositions due to dismissed charges may also be petitioned for expungement.

Getting Records Removed

Expunction does not have to be requested through a sentencing court in Montana. Montana law 46-23-510 states that when a felony or misdemeanor conviction of a violent or sexual nature is reversed, the court will order the expungement of any criminal records. The county attorney where the arrest occurred will then be required to notify the Department of Justice that the conviction has been reversed and to destroy all DNA records on file.

When a case of conviction is dismissed, deemed nolle prossed, or the individual is found not guilty, the records pertaining to the case are closed and completely erased. This is also true in cases where sentences have been suspended by a court of prosecution. When a person is found not guilty due to a mental defect or illness, all records pertaining to a criminal case must be closed. However, certain agencies and other law enforcement agencies have the authority to access disposition files under certain circumstances.

Limitation Period for Felonies in Montana

For felony prosecution, Montana has enacted a statute of limitations. There is no time limit for mitigated, deliberate, or negligent homicide and a five-year sentence for all other felonies, except those with final reversal of violence or sexual felony convictions. In these cases, the court of sentence will automatically order an expunction and notify all relevant agencies.

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