Municipal Court FAQs
- I have a ticket, do I have to see the Judge?
Many tickets can be paid on-line at CitepayUSA or paid at the counter without waiting to see the Judge. Please call 406-552-6180 to verify if your citation can be paid without a court appearance. Most minor traffic offenses and city ordinance violations qualify for an appearance with the Traffic Bureau Settlement Master. The Settlement Master isn't a Judge, but is able to accept a guilty, no contest, or not guilty plea, the same as the Judge. If you wish to plead guilty or no contest, the Settlement Master will proceed with sentencing, based on guidelines from the Municipal Court Judge. The Settlement Master may also be able to offer a deferred sentence, if you meet specific qualifications. If you wish to plead not guilty, which will start the process for a trial, the Settlement Master will set your next hearing date. All future hearings, after an entry of not guilty plea, will occur with the Judge.
- How can I get my conviction expunged or removed from my record?
Missoula Municipal Court does not have the power to expunge a conviction. The legislature has granted that authority exclusively to District Courts. If your sentence was deferred at the time it was pronounced AND you have successfully completed all conditions of the sentence, the Court can dismiss the charge and seal your cause number. What that means is that the public does not have access to the details of the conviction and your criminal record will state that the charge has been dismissed. This request will be denied if the Court finds that you (1) did not complete all conditions of your sentence on time; (2) if you had a new charge during the time the deferred sentence was running or (3) if the time for deferment has not expired. If you did not receive a deferred sentence and believe your conviction should be taken off your record, you may be best served by consulting an attorney.
- What are points and what is this ticket going to do to my driving record or my insurance rates?
The Montana Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) assigns points to convictions for traffic offenses. Municipal Court is required to report all convictions to the DMV. On receipt of notice that an individual has a conviction, the DMV will place points on your record. If you accumulate too many points on your record, you could lose your driving privileges. Each insurance company has different methods of determining your insurance rates. Many base some rate changes on the points the DMV places on your driving record.
You can check your driver’s license status with the DMV to find out how many points you have. Some of the more common points include: DUI= 10 points Driving While Suspended = 6 points Reckless Driving = 5 points No Insurance = 4 points Speeding = 3 points Careless Driving = 2 points Moving Violations = 2 points
- Is there any way I can keep this ticket off of my record?
The Court is required to report every traffic conviction to the Montana Department of Motor Vehicles. In limited circumstances, the Court does have the ability to “defer sentence” on traffic offenses. A deferred sentence would allow the points be removed from your record after the period of deferment has ended. PLEASE NOTE: Under Federal Law the Court cannot defer your ticket if you have a CDL.
- How do I get my ticket dismissed?
A ticket can be dismissed at trial, by motion of the City Attorney’s Office or by motion supported by legal authority which has been properly served on the City Attorney. The Court will not dismiss your ticket based on your explanation about what happened without allowing the City Attorney’s Office to be heard and present witnesses.
- I can’t afford an attorney and don’t qualify for a public defender, can I represent myself?
Many people represent themselves and many people do so successfully. Please visit our Self Help section for information on hearings and trials as well as some forms you may find helpful. However, if you are charged with something that may involve a jail sentence, you should consider this option carefully. There can be risks associated with self-representation and you should be aware that some offenses in Municipal Court can have unexpected long term consequences on gun rights or driving privileges. The Court will try to answer any procedural questions you have during the process, but the Court cannot tell you how to proceed nor can it give you any legal advice. You will be expected to conduct yourself appropriately and understand the basic rules of evidence and procedure.
- What court do I go to?
If you received a ticket from a city police officer (blue uniform), you need to appear in Municipal Court located in City Hall at 435 Ryman. If you received a ticket from a sheriff's deputy or highway patrol (brown uniform), you need to appear in Justice Court located in the County Courthouse at 200 W. Broadway.
- The judge ordered restitution to me. When will I get that money?
The court mails payments as it collects the money from the person ordered to pay restitution. An order of restitution does not guarantee that the court will be able to collect on your behalf.
- My driver's license was suspended. How do I get it back?
You will need to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles and find out why your license was suspended. If your license was suspended by Missoula Municipal Court for non-compliance or failure to appear you must come to the Court to address it. After you have taken care of the non-compliance, by appearing and bringing yourself into compliance, you will need to get a reinstatement from the DMV.
- Do I have to accompany my child to court?
Yes. All minors (under the age of 18) must be accompanied by their parents or legal guardians. A parent or legal guardian cannot enter a plea for a minor.
- How do I get copies of records from the court?
You must fill out a record search form. There is a $5 fee for a record search. The first two pages of copies are free, and $.25 is charged for each additional page. See our Self Help section for additional information and the form.
- What are the court's surcharges used for?
Surcharges are set by the Legislature or City Council and are used to purchase court technology, police academy training, and the crime victim compensation fund.
- Where can I do Anger Management?
In Missoula, there are several providers that are the court routinely refers defendants who have been ordered to complete Anger Management counseling to:
- C.A.V.E. (Community Awareness in Violence Education) Brad Boylan, LCPC 500 N Higgins #109 Phone: (406) 239-9911
- Laurie Bogart, LCPC 500 N Higgins #109 Phone: (406) 493-7313
- Dr. Q Counseling (Dr. Q Hehn, LCPC) 725 W Central Ave #209 Phone: (406) 542-0900
- Choices for Change (Nancy Smith, MSW, LCSW, LAC 304 Fourth Ave E Superior, MT Phone: (406) 822-5422
- MAN.UP.RIGHT (Warren Michelson, LCSW) 336 W Spruce St Phone: (406) 546-9033
- Michael English, LCSW 1406 S 1st Hamilton, MT Phone: (406) 363-0929
- Winds of Change 2685 Palmer St #301 Phone: (406) 721-2038 (Medicaid accepted)
Defendants may also go to another counselor of their choice and must provide the counselor's name, address and phone number to the court. If ordered to complete Anger Management, defendants must complete as ordered at sentencing.
- Where can I do ACT (Assessment, Classes, Treatment) or MDD (Misdemeanor Dangerous Drugs Program)?
- Turning Point:1235 Wyoming St (406)-532-9800
- Choices for Change Counseling: 304 4th Ave E/PO Box 622 Superior, MT 59872. Phone: (406) 822-5422.
In order to meet Montana's requirements, these programs must be completed with a Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC).
- How do I get my scheduled court hearing moved to a different date?
Defendants who are represented by attorney should request their counsel file a motion to continue on their behalf. If you represent yourself (Pro Se) you may motion the court in writing to continue a scheduled hearing. Clerks can provide you with a form to complete which should be brought to the City Attorneys so their office can indicate on the motion whether the continuance is opposed by the prosecution or not. Your motion should indicate how much time in weeks you are asking for and why. The motion should be signed and dated by the defendant and filed with the court.