Helena Municipal Court - FAQ'S (Frequently Asked Questions)

I have received a citation. Can I pay a fine or do I have to see the judge?

If the charge is a minor traffic offense or city ordinance violation and does not require an appearance before the Judge, you may go to the clerk's office and pay the fine within one (1) week of your scheduled appearance date.

How can I find out how much my citation will cost?

If the charge is a minor traffic offense or a city ordinance violation, you can contact the clerk's office at (406) 447-8466 and a clerk will advise you of the bond amount. For offenses that require a mandatory judge appearance, the fine is sentenced by the Judge in court. You can also send your questions to Helena Municipal Court via e-mail and someone will respond within 24 hours.  helenamunicipalcourt(at)helenamt.gov

The police officer would not tell me how much the fine was for my citation or accept bond out on the street. Why?

To prevent relaying the wrong information/ amounts, it is the policy of Helena Municipal Court and the Helena Police Department to have the officer write the citation and the court sentence the fine.

Can I make payments on my fine?

At the discretion of the Judge, you can make time payments or do community service to satisfy your fine.

Does Municipal Court take credit/debit cards?

Yes, Visa and Mastercard and a minimal processing fee is charged per transaction which varies depending upon the amount of your payment.

Where do I send my payments?

Helena Municipal Court, 228 Broadway, Helena, MT 59601. Please make sure the payment is clearly marked with the defendant's name so the payment will be applied to the proper account. If you would like a receipt, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

I was arrested recently. How can I get a copy of the police report?

Contact the City Attorney's office at (406) 457-8595 for release of the report. Once the report has been released you will need to go to the Law Enforcement Center at 221 Breckenridge, Helena to obtain a copy of the police report. They will require you to provide a photo ID and $5.00 in exact change or a check made payable to the City of Helena.

I was involved in an accident recently. How can I get a copy of the police report?

If you were the driver, passenger, vehicle owner, or property owner involved in the accident you can obtain a copy of the report from the Law Enforcement Center at 221 Breckenridge, Helena. You will be required to provide a photo ID and $5.00 in exact change or a check made payable to the City of Helena. There is usually a 2-4 day waiting period for the report to be available.

What happens if I fail to appear on my scheduled court date?

If you do not make your original appearance in court, a summons will be sent to you. If you do not appear by the date given on the summons (no extensions are given on this date), a warrant will be issued for non-appearance and your driving privileges may be suspended.

What should I do if I cannot appear in court on the day the officer scheduled my appearance?

Contact the clerk's office at (406) 447-8466. If you were issued a citation and given a 10:00 a.m. appearance time, the clerk will reschedule your appearance date out one (1) week. Initial appearances are Monday through Friday at 10:00 a.m. It is advised that you contact the clerk's office prior to an appearance to verify the court is having 10:00 a.m. appearances on the date you wish to appear.

How can I contest a traffic citation?

Appear in court on the date and time the police officer scheduled on your citation. When the Judge asks for your plea, plead "not guilty." A clerk will schedule a trial date and you will receive a copy of the trial notice. You will be informed of the date for a pretrial conference. At the pretrail conference you will have the opportunity to speak to the City Prosecutor. If you reach an agreement with the prosecutor, you may appear in court during the Judge's hours and change your plea PRIOR to your court date. If you do not reach an agreement with the prosecutor, you will need to appear in court on the date and time of your schedule trial.

Will the court appoint an attorney to represent me?

If you are charged with an offense for which you may be sentenced to jail, you may qualify for a court appointed attorney (Public Defender). You will be required to fill out an application and financial statement. If you qualify you will be appointed an attorney. The Public Defender's office will send you a letter notifying you of your attorney's name and directing you to contact their office for an appointment. It is YOUR responsibility to contact the Public Defender's office and maintain that contact until your case is adjudicated.

Is there a way to keep a traffic citation off my driving record?

You may ask the Judge for a deferred sentence when you appear in court on your scheduled court date. The Judge usually gives a 90 day deferred sentence, which means the citation is reported to the Driving Bureau for those 90 days and at the end of the 90 days it is reported as dismissed but will remain on your driving record.  You must still pay a fine and the Judge grants only one (1) deferred sentence per lifetime. 

I just received a trial notice in the mail. What is it and what do I do?

If you are the defendant you will need to be in court on the date and time shown on the trial notice. If you are not the defendant then your presence is being requested by the City of Helena to appear on the date and time to testify in the case. Please contact the clerk's office at (406) 447-8466 one (1) day prior to the trial date to verify that we still need you to appear. If you have any questions regarding the case you can contact the prosecutor at the City Attorney's office at (406) 457-8595.

I will be on vacation at the time of the trial. What should I do?

Contact the clerk's office at (406) 447-8466. The clerk can make a note in the file or refer you to the prosecuting attorney if they feel your appearance at the trial is needed. The court may continue the trial date so that you may be present to testify.

What happens if I fail to appear for my trial?

Typically a warrant for non-appearance is issued and your driving privileges are suspended. You should appear in court before the Judge as soon as possible to clear the matter.

Can my trial date be continued? What do I have to do?

You must request a continuance in writing, explaining the reason for the continuance and waive your right to a speedy trial. The written request must be filed in the clerk's office a minimum of five (5) days PRIOR to your scheduled trial date. Please refer to your trial notice you were given in court explaining this process.

My name appears on the Arrest Warrant List. What do I do?

If you are able, the best way to clear a warrant is to appear before the Judge. If you live out of town or state, you should contact the clerk's office at (406) 447-8466 to discuss ways to clear the warrant. It is possible that your warrant can be cleared over the phone or by simply mailing in a payment. If the warrant was issued for non-compliance of sentencing or there is a mandatory Judge appearance involved you will have to make arrangements to appear in court.

Can I check if I have a warrant (or someone else)?

You can contact the clerk's office at (406) 447-8466 and a clerk can check for warrants issued only out of Helena Municipal Court. To check on warrants issued in Lewis & Clark County, contact the Support Service Division at the Helena Police Department at (406) 447-8469 to verify if there is a warrant and which court issued the warrant.

Can I get a probationary driver's license (work permit) if I refused the breath test?

Under Montana law, if you refuse the breath test, your driver's license will be seized and suspended for six (6) months from the date of the refusal. You will not be eligible for a probationary driver's license during the suspension.