Montana offers expungement and record sealing in a limited number of circumstances. An expungement removes a criminal offense from your record for most purposes. A sealed record is not publicly available without a court order. Since employers, landlords, and others can search your criminal history, expungement and record sealing make it easier to get a job, housing or an education.
Sealing of Juvenile Criminal Records
In Montana, most juvenile criminal records are automatically sealed once you reach the age of 18. Under certain circumstances, you may ask the court to seal you records before the age of 18. An early request to seal must be filed in writing with the court. If you need help sealing your juvenile record, contact an expungement lawyer.
Sealing of Adult Criminal Records
Montana automatically seals first-time offenses that are resolved through deferred adjudication or a pre-trial diversion program. If you complete the terms of your probation, your felony or misdemeanor charges will be dismissed. The related criminal records will then become confidential and the public may only view them with a court order. However, certain law enforcement and governmental agencies may still have access to the records.
You may expunge photographs and fingerprints if your arrest results in a non-conviction (such as a dismissal or acquittal). In order to request expungement of your fingerprints and photographs, you must contact the Montana Criminal Records and Identification Services Section and file an Expungement Request Form.
Requesting a Pardon
The Governor of Montana issues a limited number of pardons. A pardon effectively erases your conviction and the related criminal records. You must formally apply for an executive pardon or clemency.
Once it receives your application, the Board of Pardons and Parole will review your request. It may hold a hearing about your claim. Once the Board of Pardons has reviewed your claim, it will be sent to the Governor for a final decision. Since 2015, the Board of Pardons is an advisory board—the Governor does not have to follow its recommendations (and may approve or deny your claim regardless of the Board’s decision).
Associated Fees and Paperwork
While there are not significant filing fees associated with Montana expungements and pardons, you may be charged attorney fees and other costs if you hire a criminal defense lawyer.
Implications of a Successful Expungement
If the court grants your petition, you may lawfully state that the sealed or expunged criminal record does not exist. When most employers search your Montana criminal record, the charges will not be present. Sealed and expunged records will still be available to law enforcement agencies.
Consulting an Attorney
In order to expunge a criminal record, you must submit specific paperwork and may have to attend a hearing. A criminal lawyer or expungement lawyer can help guide you through the expungement process and insure that you have the correct information in your request. Additionally, a lawyer can speak on your behalf during any necessary court hearings and give you the best chance of expunging your record.