Court Process

This page is intended as a simple guide of what is expected of you as a victim/witness when you appear before the court and a brief list of terms you may hear or read during the process.
For more complete and precise information you can contact the courts or  the Victim/Witness Advocate.
District Court: (406) 283-2342
Justice Court: (406) 283-2412
Libby City Court: (406) 293-4440


What the Criminal Justice Stystem Expects from You:

  • Cooperation
    Please appear in Court at scheduled times. You are needed for a successful prosecution.
  • Honesty
    Please be truthful when questioned by both the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney.
  • Information
    Please provide all information requested by law enforcement officials.
  • Patience
    The system may seem to move slowly at times; however, all persons want to see justice served and it is important that speediness not take the place of accuracy and truthfulness.

Legal Definitions

A basic list of terms you may hear or need to know:

  • Accused (defendant)
    Person charged with committing the crime.
  • Misdemeanor
    A crime that may be punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to 1 year and/or a fine of $1,000.
  • Prosecutor
    The County or City Attorney. They represent the State of Montana on behalf of the victim.
  • Complaint
    A sworn, written document that formally charges someone with committing a crime.
  • Warrant (arrest)
    A court order signed by a judge allowing for arrest of the accused.
  • Summons
    A court order telling the accused to appear at a court hearing on his/her own at a specified date and time.
  • Arraignment
    udge reads the charges and informs the accused of the maximum sentence. If an attorney is asked for, bails is set and a time for the accused to return with their attorney and make a plea.
  • Plea
    The defendant’s formal response to the charges.
  • Bail
    A dollar amount given as security that the defendant will appear in court. Guaranteeing this amount allows for release from jail.
  • Restitution
    Payment by a defendant for costs associated with the crime. These can be paid to the victim and/or to government agencies.
  • Victims Rights
         •  Consultation with the prosecutor, or representative of their office, regarding the nature of the case.
         •  Notification of proceedings relating to the person’s case.