Criminal case records are available to the public, except in those situations where the records have been expunged--i.e., destroyed--or sealed from public view. Montana law provides for expungement of criminal records for convictions that are reversed on appeal, and for the sealing of records in criminal cases where a deferred sentence has been completed. In both cases, the law is mandatory and the court must expunge or seal the records when you file a motion showing you qualify for either relief.
Gather all of the documents and information regarding your case, such as the order reversing your conviction on appeal or to show you completed the conditions of your deferred sentence, such as performing community service.
Go to the website of the State Law Library of Montana and download their form of a motion that can be filled in with the information particular to your case (see Resources). In plain language, state in the motion the fact showing that your conviction was reversed on appeal or that you have completed your deferred sentence. Include a statement that you request the court to expunge the record of your reversed conviction or to seal your record of your completed deferred sentence.
File the motion with the clerk of court and find out from the court the hearing date for your motion.
Attend the hearing on your motion and bring to court with you all the documentation showing you completed your deferred sentence. After your motion is granted, the court will notify the Montana Department of Justice to expunge your record or seal your case records from public view, depending on which relief you are entitled to receive.
If the reversed conviction relates to a non-sexual felony in the case of an adult or any juvenile case, Montana law also requires the county attorney of the county in which the conviction occurred to take action to expunge any case records from the DNA identification index.
Because Montana law does not permit expungement of a conviction unless it is reversed on appeal, you should consider accepting a plea agreement for a deferred sentence so that you have the possibility of sealing the record. If you insist on a trial, you risk having a conviction on your record that cannot be expunged or sealed.
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