Omnibus Hearing Information
Omnibus Hearings Defendants Represented By An Attorney
Omnibus Hearings in Helena Municipal Court are held every Wednesday. If you have are assigned a Public Defender, your hearing will be held at 11:00 a.m. If you have hired your own private counsel, your hearing will be held at 1:00 p.m. *If you fail to appear for the omnibus hearing, you will waive your right to request a trial by jury.
The Omnibus Hearing is scheduled out five (5) weeks in order to give both parties time to prepare. You will receive notice of this date, in person, prior to leaving your initial appearance. The Omnibus Hearing will take between 15 and 30 minutes. If you have a conflict with the date scheduled, you need to notify your attorney as soon as possible, so they have time to file a Motion to Continue along with Waiver of Speedy Trial with the Court no later than five (5) days before the date of the hearing.
In order to ensure your omnibus hearing is as efficient as possible, you will want to have met with your attorney PRIOR to the court date to discuss your case and options as to how to proceed. Your attorney can appear on your behalf without you present at the Omnibus Hearing UNLESS you will be requesting a jury trial. You must appear, in person, with your attorney in order to request the Court set a jury trial for your case.
You will receive a notice in the mail of your next court date approximately 1-2 weeks following your omnibus hearing, so make sure that your mailing address is kept current with the Court and your attorney at all times!
OMNIBUS HEARINGS PRO SE DEFENDANTS (no attorney)
Omnibus Hearings in Helena Municipal Court are held every Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. and are MANDATORY appearances! *If you fail to appear for the omnibus hearing, a warrant for your arrest will be issued and your driving privileges will be suspended for Fail to Appear.
The Omnibus Hearing is scheduled out five (5) weeks in order to give both parties time to prepare. You will receive notice of this date, in person, prior to leaving your initial appearance. The Omnibus Hearing will take between 15 and 30 minutes. If you have a conflict with the date scheduled, you must follow the instructions on your Omnibus Hearing Notice you received from the Court – "A continuance of the omnibus hearing will only be considered upon receipt of a written request for continuance along with a waiver of speedy trial, filed with the Court no later than five (5) days before the date of the hearing."
The purpose of the omnibus hearing is to assure that all parties are prepared to go on to trial, if necessary, and to discuss alternate means of settling the dispute at an early stage of the proceedings. The omnibus hearing is a hearing ordered by the court and held in the courtroom to have a face to face discussion of the issues of the case.
Omnibus hearings include full "discovery" of evidence (maps, photos, etc.) and witnesses. There are no surprises in Municipal Court. Each party to the case has the right to be fully advised of what information will be used at trial. At the omnibus hearing, you must be prepared to bring all documents that you anticipate will be introduced as evidence at the trial, and you must provide a copy of each potential exhibit to the opposing party. In addition, you must provide a list of witnesses that you expect to testify at trial, with their names, addresses, and telephone numbers, for the opposing party. If there is discovery still to be completed, the Judge will set deadlines for each party to comply with discovery issues. If you do not comply with discovery, you may be prohibited from entering those exhibits or witnesses at the trial.
The City Attorney's Office will be mailing you their "Plaintiff's Notice of Witnesses and Exhibits" prior to your Omnibus Hearing. If you wish to receive discovery (police/accident reports, videos, etc.) you must file a Discovery Request with their office.
You must be prepared to frankly discuss the issues of the case and the evidence you have. You should not bring your witnesses to the omnibus hearing. This is not the proper time for witnesses to appear, as their testimony will not be heard. Only the issues of the case are to be discussed.
Some cases cannot be settled at the omnibus hearing and a trial will need to be set. If a case is to be set for trial, the Judge, at the omnibus hearing, will set a schedule of events, including dates to comply with discovery, motions, and subpoenas as needed. You will receive a notice in the mail of your next court date approximately 1-2 weeks following your omnibus hearing, so make sure that your mailing address is kept current with the Court at all times!
Judge (or Bench) Trial Information
The judge trial is a hearing requested by the Defendant at the Omnibus Hearing and is held in the courtroom. This is the time the Judge will hear the facts of the case from both the Defense and the Prosecution.
Public Defender Process
If you are facing jail time or suspended jail time as part of your sentence, you may qualify for a Public Defender. When you appear in Court and plead not guilty to your charge, you will be told of any possible jail time. The Court will refer your case to the Public Defender's Office AT YOUR REQUEST, but it is up to you to apply with them. In order to do so you must:
- Report to the Public Defender's Office at 139 N. Last Chance Gulch (Goodkind Building) within 24 hours of your initial appearance in court to fill out an application (the Court does not maintain their forms).
- Call the Public Defender's Office at 444-0104 to schedule an appointment with your attorney, once you have received their letter assigning counsel.
- Follow through by providing their office with all income documentation they will request to back your financial need for assignment.
- Keep your Address and Phone # updated with both the Court AND the Public Defender's Office.
- Note: You must fill out a separate application for EACH NEW CASE, regardless of any other pending cases you may have where you are already assigned counsel.
If you do not provide the Public Defender's Office with an application and/or income documentation OR if your income documentation does not meet the State guidelines for , the Public Defender's Office will rescind (or withdraw) from your case. This means you will not have legal representation at any further hearings for this case, so you may want to file a Motion to Continue with Waiver of Speedy Trial to give you more time. You may appeal their decision to rescind from your case by filing an appeal with the court within (10) days of the Public Defender's notice. The Court will set a hearing at which time both you and a representative from the Public Defender's Office will appear to testify. You will need to bring all income documentation with you to this hearing.
Pretrial Services is a program used by criminal justice systems across the United States to reduce the number of individuals sitting in jail while they wait up to three months for their trial date. The Lewis & Clark County Pretrial Services program uses the Laura and John Arnold Foundation's Public Safety Assessment (PSA) to determine the risk level of each person charged with a crime. The PSA is used by the judges when deciding if individuals should be released while awaiting trial or if they should wait in the jail. To get in to the Pretrial Services Program, the Judge overseeing the defendant's case needs to order them to the program. Once in the Program, a Pretrial Officer will assist the defendant in connecting to necessary resources, help the defendant abide by court orders, and make sure they appear at all their scheduled court dates.
Click here to visit the Lewis & Clark Pretrial Services Program website for more information.
Chemical Dependency Resources
The Prevention Bureau of the Montana Dept. of Health and Human Services is responsible for the development and oversight of the state's system for delivering and reimbursing publicly funded Substance Use Disorder Services and Resources. The Bureau ensures availability and efficient delivery of appropriate and effective services; provides extensive monitoring of program implementation and operation; and analyzes and reports on program operations, costs and outcomes.
Click here for more information.
Community Service Coordinator:
Lewis & Clark County Courthouse, 228 Broadway St.
Public Records Request
The records request form must be filled out completely and the $10.00 fee paid in full to begin the record request. Please note that while we will do our best to process this request in a timely manner, it may take up to two weeks for a record search to be completed.
View the records request form here: Public Records Request
Information for Expungement from Montana Department of Justice
View the link below for information on record expungement through the State of Montana: