- Legal & Judicial
- Justice Courts
Silver Bow County Justice Court is constitutionally entrusted to preserve the rule of law and to protect the rights and liberties guaranteed by the United States and Montana Constitutions.
We are dedicated to providing professional, accurate, and courteous services to the State of Montana, its citizenry while applying judicious justice under the law.
About Justice Courts
The court currently has two elected Justices of the Peace serving four-year terms as set forth in the Montana Codes Annotated.
The Silver Bow County Justice Courts, Department 1 and Department 2, are each administered by a full-time Justice of the Peace/Judge. These two courts have a dedicated staff and provide an effective and efficient court system for the residents of Silver Bow County. The Justice Court is divided into three divisions: Criminal, Civil and Small Claims. Each Justice Court handles all divisions. Below is a brief overview of each of the divisions:
The criminal division handles citations issued by the Montana Highway Patrol, Fish and Game, Airport and the Department of Transportation. The Court is also responsible for seeing people making their initial appearance on felony charges. The Justice Court may also issue a search warrant.
The civil division handles actions involving personal or property damages, contract disputes; the recovery of personal property, the civil division of the Justice Court also handles orders of protections, landlord/tenant disputes and contract disputes. The amount in dispute cannot exceed $15,000, excluding court costs.
The small claims division handles contracts involving the recovery of money, recovery specific personal property, and interpleader. The amount in controversy, or the value of the property, cannot exceed $7,000.00. Counterclaims cannot exceed $6,500.00.
The justice court does not have jurisdiction which involves the title or possession of real property or the legality of any tax.
While the Justice Court clerks are pleased to assist you in any way possible, please understand that we are unable to provide legal advice. If you need legal advice or have questions, please contact an attorney.
- To increase the quality of services through education, training, and technology.
- Ensure staff is helpful, friendly, and accurate in their dealings with the public.
- More efficient use of video arraignments.
- Increase training for department.
- Move forward in implementing technology into the courts’ operations as it becomes feasible and applicable.
- Continue success with the implementation of the following programs:
- Order of Protection service
- Overdue Processing
- Online Citation payments
- Expansion of DUI Court
- Increased revenue of previous collection cases of debt that are 5 years old.
The activities of the office are:
- Civil jurisdiction action if the sum claim is between $7,000 to $12,000
- Concurrent jurisdiction with the District Court
- Small claims action for amounts from $3,000 to $7,000
- Jurisdiction over forcible entry
- Unlawful detainment and residential landlord-tenant disputes
The office has criminal jurisdiction for:
- Misdemeanors not exceeding $500 or one year incarceration
- Fish and game statutes
- Concurrent jurisdiction with district court for misdemeanors
- Examining and committing courts for preliminary hearings
I got a ticket, when can I see the Judge?
The issuing agency will write an "appear by" date on your ticket, usually 10 days after it was issued. You may appear any day on or before that date. If you fail to appear by that date, a warrant for your arrest may be issued.
Monday through Thursday 9:30 am-10:30 am the Justice Court sees people who received tickets on a first-come, first-served basis.
It is best to check in by 9:15 a.m. At 1;00 p.m. M-F, the Justice Courts sees people in custody via video link from the Butte Silver Bow Detention Facility. Please feel free to call the clerk's office at 406-497-6360 with any questions.
I got a ticket, what happens when I see the Judge?
In criminal cases, the Judge will advise you of your rights and the charges against you and then ask you to enter either a Guilty or Not Guilty plea. If you plead Guilty, the Judge will impose a sentence then, but you may first make a statement. If you plead not guilty, the Judge will set a scheduling hearing, called an "omnibus" hearing, which will take place approximately six (6) weeks after you’re not guilty plea
If you have received a citation, you must appear in court on the date written on your citation, between the hours of 930 AM - 1030 AM. If you are unable to make this appearance date, call 406-497-6392 to schedule an appointment.
No weapons are allowed in the courthouse and there is no smoking in the courthouse. There is no eating, drinking, chewing tobacco or gum allowed in the courtroom. Backpacks are not allowed in the courtroom. All beepers, cellular telephones, and electronic devices MUST be turned off before entering the Justice Court offices.
Proper courtroom attire is required. Hats should be removed before entering the courtroom and the Judge Chambers.
While in the courtroom please sit quietly when Court is in session. It is best to try to avoid bringing children to court.
Request for Records
Butte Justice Court Request for Public Records
Most Justice Court records are public record and can be made available to the public, however, there is a $10 charge, per name, to perform the record search. Copies of records are charged at $1.00 per page for the first ten pages and $.50 per page for every page after ten. Original records cannot be removed from the office. Search fee is waived for government agencies if we receive the request on agency letterhead. Record searches are done as time permits. A request form is available in doc or pdf format at the link above or in our office located at the courthouse, room 305.