Juvenile Defense

In Montana, child of various ages can be prosecuted in juvenile court for delinquent acts. There is not a statute in Montana that specifies the youngest age at which a juvenile can be adjudicated delinquent, although as a practical matter, children under the age of 10 years old are rarely found competent to form the intent required to commit the crime or to face the charges in court.

Juvenile court has jurisdiction over offenses that were allegedly committed before the child's 18th birthday. If the act is committed after the child turns 18, then the child must be charged in adult court as provided in Mont. Code Ann. § 41-5-203(1).

If the crime was committed before the child turned 18, then the judge in juvenile court can retain jurisdiction over youth until the child turns 21 years old. In some limited circumstances, the jurisdiction can be extended until the child’s 25th birthday as long as the offense occurred prior to the child’s 18th birthday.

Juvenile Defense Attorney in Helena, MT

When a child is accused of committing a delinquent act, the accusations can be very serious. As a general rule, parents should not let their child talk to law enforcement officers until after they have consulted with an experienced criminal defense attorney. After a criminal accusation, you should seek out the services of an attorney who understands the special procedures rules that apply in juvenile court.

To speak with Greg Beebe, call the officer at Beebe Law Firm.

Stages of the Juvenile Case in Montana

The stages of a case being investigated or prosecuted in juvenile court include:

  • the initial criminal investigation;
  • being taken into custody by a law enforcement officer;
  • the probable cause hearing in court;
  • pre-trial conferences;
  • motion hearings;
  • the adjudicatory hearing or trial;
  • probation revocation hearings;
  • appeals.

Juveniles in Montana have a right to a trial by jury, which is waived if not demanded. Mont. Code Ann. § 41-5-1502(1).

Juveniles Tried in Adult Court

In some cases, children who commit delinquent acts while under the age of 18, can be prosecuted as an adult in adult court. The law in Montana provides for two different ways that juveniles can be prosecuted as adults:

  • First, prosecutors have the discretion to charge children who are twelve years old or older as an adult  for certain statutorily-delineated offenses such as rape, murder, assault on a police officer, or attempted murder under Mont. Code Ann. § 41-5-206(1).
  • Second, under Mont. Code Ann. § 41-5-206(2), the statutory scheme excludes young people who are 17 years old if they meet certain offense criteria.

Juvenile Courts in the 22 Judicial Districts in Montana

The 22 districts in Montana include:

  1. Lewis & Clark
  2. Silver Bow
  3. Powell
  4. Missoula
  5. Madison
  6. Park
  7. Dawson
  8. Cascade
  9. Glacier
  10. Fergus
  11. Flathead
  12. Hill
  13. Yellowstone
  14. Musselshell
  15. Roosevelt
  16. Custer
  17. Blaine
  18. Gallatin
  19. Lincoln
  20. Lake
  21. Ravalli
  22. Big Horn

Additional Resources

Juvenile Defense for Indigent Children -  In Montana, children are entitled to be represented by a criminal defense attorney through the regional offices of the Office of the State Public Defender. Mont. Code Ann. § 47-1-201.

Youth Court in Montana - Visit the website of the Montana Supreme Court to learn how children enter the juvenile justice system through contact with law enforcement or a referral to juvenile probation by another agency. Find out why juvenile probation is an integral part of the Youth Court within each of the 22 judicial districts in Montana.

Montana's Youth Court Act - Visit the website of the Montana Legislature to find Chapter 5 on the Youth Court Act contained in Title 41 of the Montana Code Annotated 2015. Find information on youth court, detention of juveniles, the confidentiality of the proceeding, the extended juvenile prosecution act, youth detention services, the juvenile delinquency intervention act, and criminally convicted youth.

Finding a Juvenile Defense Lawyer in Lewis and Clark County, MT

If your child has been accused of breaking the law or committing a delinquent act, then contact an experienced attorney at Beebe Law Firm. Call to find out more about the possible charges, the typical penalties imposed in that type of case, and ways to aggressively fight the charges for an outright dismissal.

Call 1 (406) 442-3625 today.

This article was last updated on Friday, August 18, 2017.


Beebe Law Firm - Criminal and DUI Defense
110 N Warren St Helena, MT 59601