The Montana Department of Justice – Criminal Records and Identification Services Section retains all criminal history records for the state. The public may access criminal records online for a cost of $20 per record.
What Are Criminal Records?
Criminal records are those that hold all of a person’s criminal history. This can include local, state, and federal criminal information. The record may also include information about the person, such as their address, date of birth, name, any aliases they have, fingerprints, and a photograph.
Your criminal records may include:
- Past arrest information
- Current and pending charges
- Acquitted charges
- Dismissed charges
Any misdemeanors or felonies will also be listed in this report. In Montana, basic name-based checks include Montana history only, but comprehensive fingerprint checks can include information from Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, as well as Montana.
How Are Criminal Records Used?
Criminal records can be used in many ways. Usually, they are searched during a background check.
Background checks may happen for several reasons, such as:
- Employment, where a company wants to know about a potential employee
- School admittance, such as when you apply to a college or university
- Property rental
- Security clearance
- Purchasing weapons or firearms, since felons are not able to purchase or own weapons in most cases
- Military service
- Fostering or adopting
- Voter registration
- Traveling abroad
- For law enforcement purposes, like as a part of a criminal investigation
How Can Someone Access Your Criminal Records?
Most of the time, you will need to give consent for another person or organization to access your criminal record. However, law enforcement and those in the government may have open access. You may also have to permit certain kinds of purchases, such as purchasing a firearm.
The public can access some criminal records as public records. For example, you can perform a background check and find out more about a person’s public records, such as their divorce or marital history, DUI records, and past addresses. A criminal record check is more specific and includes information like a person’s arrests, penalties, and convictions. In Montana, the public may receive only limited arrest and prosecutor/court information on felony charges and misdemeanor charges.
Sex and Violent Crimes
Sex crimes and violent crimes are relatively open to the public because of the sex and violent offender registry. Visiting the state’s sex and violent offender website makes searching simple. Some people will remain on this registry permanently, but not all do. Every state treats sex offenders differently.
How Can You Request a Criminal Record?
If you want to do a name-based search, you may do so online, by mail, or in person. Fingerprint-based checks may only be requested by mail or in person.
Mail-in requests for name-based background checks should include:
- The name of the person being checked and, if possible, any aliases, nicknames, or maiden names
- The person’s date of birth
- Their Social Security number:
- A self-addressed, stamped envelope
- The $15 processing fee for each individual to be checked, paid by check or money order
For fingerprint-based checks, you must obtain a blank fingerprint card from law enforcement officials, and both the applicant and the person taking the fingerprints must sign it. All blanks on the card, including the subject’s name, address, and aliases, must be filled out. The reason for the check is State Only / WIN background check. The fingerprint-based check costs $15.
Mail both types of requests to:
Helena, MT 59620-1403
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