The Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation is the agency that is responsible for managing and disseminating criminal history records for individuals in the state.
What is a Background Check?
A background check is a request for information from the Montana Department of Justice. A background review may be required for employment, personal safety, legal activities and other situations. Montana laws consider criminal histories to be a matter of public record.
What is the Purpose of a Background Check?
Background checks may be performed for many reasons, such as:
- Eligibility for certain types of employment
- Personal safety
- Law enforcement activities
What are the Background Check Laws in Montana?
Under Montana law, anyone can request a background check for themselves or another individual. The level of information that is reported depends on the nature of the request. Law enforcement is granted access to all criminal records that are submitted by police and the FBI. The general public can access information about arrests, court cases, and misdemeanor and felony charges. The report may also contain convictions and other relevant information that is allowed under the law.
How Far back Does a Background Check Go?
The background report will include all records from an individual’s rap sheet that begins at the time of adulthood as defined by the state. Some records, such as those that occur prior to adulthood, may be sealed and inaccessible.
How Much Does a Background Check Cost?
Montana charges a fee for each search. Name-based searches are the least expensive option, but it will not include records from the FBI. The cost of a fingerprint search is higher, and the report is more comprehensive. You can view the current fees for Montana background checks at https://media.dojmt.gov/wp-content/uploads/Criminal_Records_Fees_as_of_20160301.pdf
How Accurate are the Results?
Each of the websites that are available to perform background checks in Montana has disclaimers explaining that the information may be inaccurate and incomplete. You can request certified copies of the records should you need an up-to-date report. If you perform a background check on yourself and find errors, work with the appropriate agency to have your records reviewed and corrected.
How to Do a Background Check in Montana
You can access the online portal for name-based background checks at https://app.mt.gov/choprs/. You will need the person’s full name and birth date to use the search feature. Social security numbers make the search results more accurate. An option is available to search by aliases. You must pay the fee prior to receiving the results of the search, even if the search returns no results.
Fingerprint-based background checks must be mailed to the division and submitted on an approved fingerprints card.
Other Montana Public Records
If you want to find out about court proceedings for an individual or business, you need to work directly with the Clerk of Courts. You can read more at https://courts.mt.gov/
The Montana sex offenders online database is located at https://www.nsopw.gov/enus/Search/Verification. After you agree to the terms of the website, you can search by:
- State, territory and Indian country
- Address and radius
The results of the search detail the registered offender’s mugshot, physical description, address and other information.
The Montana Department of Corrections offers an online inmate search at https://app.mt.gov/conweb. You can search by DOC number and name.
Accessing Records at FreeBackgroundCheck.org
FreeBackgroundCheck.org is a free public records database that may be more convenient and comprehensive than the resources that are available directly from the state. You may find information such as social media accounts, marital status, current address and much more that is not reported by the state of Montana.