Flathead County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Flathead County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Flathead County.
Who is the prosecutor for Flathead County?
Depending upon the case, the prosecutor for Flathead County criminal cases will either be a representative of Flathead County or a representative from Montana. After reviewing evidence it is the prosecutor’s decision whether to file charges or drop a case. Most prosecutors have the ability to negotiate plea bargains, and determine how the case will be prosecuted.
What is Jury Deliberation?
After both the prosecution and defense have presented their cases, the judge in the case will provide instructions to the jury about what they must decide. The jury will be dismissed to the jury room where they will deliberate about the guilt or innocence of the defendant. After reaching a unaminous decision, they return their decision to the court where it is read aloud in the courtroom. If the jury is unable to reach a unaminous decision, the jury is deadlocked, also known as a hung jury, in which a mistrial will be declared.
Flathead County Criminal Court locations
Criminal proceedings take place in the Flathead County Criminal Courts. A list of the criminal courts are located here.
Can I request a Plea Agreement?
In Flathead County you may be able to enter into a plea agreement depending upon the severity of the charges. It is also dependant upon the prosecution willing to accept a plea agreement. You can ask your attorney to attempt to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecution to avoid having a jury trial along with the potential for a more serious sentence. Approximately 9 out of 10 criminal cases usually end in a plea agreement.
Appealing a Criminal Conviciton
A defendant may appeal a criminal conviction to an appellate court. In an appeal, the actual trial is not redone, but the appellate court hears arguments that the criminal case was not handled in a legal manner at the original criminal court. The appellate court can either uphold the conviction, or determine that errors were made and may request a retrial, a resentencing of the defendant or that the charges be dismissed.
The Right to Trial by Jury
The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to a trial by a jury. This is applicable for when the crime can carry a sentence of 6 months in jail OR a $500 fine, these are known as “Serious Crimes”. The defendant can also waive their right to a speedy and public trial.
Burden of Proof Requirement
In a criminal case in the United States, the burden of proof always requires the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. This is a high threshold that must be met by the prosecution when presenting evidence in a case. If the prosecution fails in it’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt the judge must find the defendant not guilty. In a jury trial, the judge will inform the jury what this burden is and their obligation to find the defendant not guilty if they feel the prosecution did prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Sentencing in Flathead County
In Flathead County if the defendant is found guilty (by trial or plea), the defendant will be sentenced. This sometimes occurrs immediately after being found guilty, but can also take place at a later date. In most instances, a judge will impose the sentence that is requested by the prosecution, but they also have the descretion to impose a different sentence.
Arraignments in Flathead County
During an arraignment in Flathead County, a defendant appears before the court and the judge reads the charges that have been filed against the accused and also informs the defendant of his/her rights. During the arraignment in Flathead County, the defendant can choose to plead one of the following 1) Guilty 2) Not Guilty or 3) No Contest. If the defendant enters a plea of Not Guilty, a date for trial is set. In the event of a Guilty or No Contest Plea in Flathead County the defendant may be sentenced at that time or the sentencing may take place at a later date.
Flathead County Required Court Appearances
In Flathead County, there are both required and non-required court appearances for the defendant. At a required or mandatory appearance hearing, the defendant is required to appear in person before the court. Failing to appear at your required hearing may result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest by the judge.
Who can help me in Flathead County?
For general information about your case the Flathead County court clerk will be able to provide legal information about your specific criminal case. Legal information is not legal advice though, the court clerk will only be able to provide information about your case, like date/time of hearings what will occur at the hearing and what you may be required to do in the hearing. They cannot provide advice about what you should do or what the best legal options may be for your particular case. Only an attorney can provide legal advice and this is your best place for information about your specific criminal proceeding. If you cannot afford to hire a private attorney to represent you, a judge will appoint an attorney to represent you, this is most often a public defender.
Right to an attorney
The US Constitution’s Sixth Amendment ensures the right to an attorney regardless of whether or not you can afford one. In Flathead County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.
Flathead County Criminal Court Locations
Flathead County District Court – 11th Judicial District
Address: 920 South Main Street, Suite 300, Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: 406-758-5870 Fax: 406-758-5857
Flathead County Justice Court
Address: 920 South Main Street, Suite 210, Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: 406-758-5643 Fax: 406-758-5842
Columbia Falls City Court
Address: 130 6th Street West, PO Box 2735, Columbia Falls, MT 59912
Phone: 406-892-4340 Fax: 406-892-4351
Kalispell Municipal Court
Address: 312 1st Avenue East, Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: 406-758-7705 Fax: 406-758-7773
Whitefish Municipal Court
Address: 275 Flathead Avenue, PO Box 158, Whitefish, MT 59937
Phone: 406-863-2440 Fax: 406-863-1259