Overview of Montana Courts
In order to find Montana court records, it's helpful to understand how the state court system works. Each state varies and we've compiled this information to help your search. You can also start your search by going directly to courts by county.
The Montana trial court system consists of District Courts, Justice Courts, City Courts, Municipal Courts, Water Court, and Workers' Compensation Court.
District Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, but usually only handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts. Justice Courts, City Courts and Municipal Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases. The Montana Water Court and Workers’ Compensation Court are specialized trial courts that handle certain types of cases for the entire state.
Criminal cases heard by District Courts include felony criminal cases and most misdemeanor criminal cases.
Civil cases heard by District Courts include general civil claims, probate matters and naturalization cases. District Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over civil claims for money damages against the State.
Criminal cases heard by Justice Courts include felony preliminary proceedings and most misdemeanors. Justice Courts share jurisdiction with District Courts for certain types of misdemeanors.
Civil cases heard by Justice Courts include most general civil claims with disputes of $7000 or less, exclusive of costs. Justice Courts can not hear certain types of cases, including disputes over title to real estate and certain claims against the State.
Each Justice Court has a Small Claims Court division that handles most general civil claims with disputes of $3000 or less, exclusive of costs.
Criminal cases heard by City Courts are limited to criminal violations of city or town ordinances. City Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over these cases.
Civil cases heard by City Courts include civil municipal ordinance violations, certain tax collection cases and certain cases brought against a city or town.
City Courts share some jurisdiction with other courts over certain types of cases.
Criminal cases heard by Municipal Courts are limited to criminal violations of city or town ordinances. Municipal Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over these cases.
Civil cases heard by Municipal Courts include civil municipal ordinance violations, certain tax collection cases and certain cases brought against the city or town.
Municipal Courts share some jurisdiction with other courts over certain types of cases.
Cases typically handled by the Water Court include claims based in state law, as well as claims based on Indian and Federal water rights.
The Montana Water Court handles cases from around the state out of one office location.
The Workers' Compensation Court has exclusive jurisdiction over certain contractor exemptions and reemployment preferences. This court also reviews final orders from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry and imposes civil penalties for violations of certain workers' compensation laws.
DUI courts can set up treatment programs in addition to incarceration, and may be included in drug courts.
|Case Type||Court Type|
|Civil||District Courts||Justice Courts||City Courts||Municipal Courts|
|General Civil - Unlimited|
|General Civil - Limited|
|Foreclosures and Liens|
|Real Estate Title and Boundary|
|Landlord / Tenant|
|Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders|
|Administrative Agency Appeals|
|Criminal||District Courts||Justice Courts||City Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Felony Preliminary Hearings|
|Traffic and Infractions|
|Domestic Relations||District Courts||Justice Courts||City Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Child Custody and Visitation|
|Domestic Violence Protection Order|
|Juvenile||District Courts||Justice Courts||City Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Child Abuse and Neglect|
|Termination of Parental Rights|
|Children in Need of Supervision|
|Mental Health||District Courts||Justice Courts||City Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Other Mental Health Cases|
|Probate||District Courts||Justice Courts||City Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Wills & Estates|
|Guardianships and Conservatorships|