Teton County Criminal Court

Teton County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Teton County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Teton County.

Who can help me in Teton County?

For general information about your case the Teton 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.

What is a Plea Agreement?

A plea agreement is a deal made between the prosecution and the defendant in a case, where the defendant agrees to plea guilty to a particular charge in exchange for some concession from the prosecutor. In practice, more than 90% of criminal cases end with a plea agreement.

Teton County Criminal Court

Teton County Criminal Court

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 Teton County a public defender will be appointed by the judge if you cannot afford private representation.

Sentencing in Teton County

In Teton 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.

Right to Jury Trial

For “Serious Crimes”, those that can have a potential penalty of 6 months in jail OR a minimum $500 penalty, the US Constitution guarantees a right to trial by jury. This is guaranteed by Article III of the Constitution and the 6th Amendment. The accused has the ability to waive their right to trial by jury.

Jury Deliberation

In a jury trial in Teton County, after both the prosecution and defense have rested, the judge will give instructions to the jury and jury deliberations will begin. The jury will convence in a private room to discuss and deliberate the innocence or guilt of the defendant. Once the jury arrives at a unimanous decision, they will inform the judge that they have reached a decision. They will return to the court and the verdict will be read aloud. If the jury cannot reach a unaminous decision, the jury is said to be deadlocked and a mistrial will be declared in the case.

Teton County Criminal Court locations

Criminal proceedings take place in the Teton County Criminal Courts. A list of the criminal courts are located here.

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.

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.

What happens in Teton County at an arraignment?

In Teton County the defendant is brought into court and informed by the judge of the charges that have been filed against them along with informing them of their rights. At this time, the defendant can plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. If the defendant pleads guilty or no contest, there will be no trial and the defendant may be sentenced immediately or at a later date. If the defendant pleads not guilty a trial date is set.

Teton County Prosecutor

For criminal cases in Teton County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Teton County. The Teton County prosecutor reviews all evidence and ultimately decides whether to file or dismiss charges in the case. Most of the time, the prosecutor has leeway in plea negotiations and determines how the case will be prosecuted.

Teton County Required Court Appearances

In Teton 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.

Teton County Criminal Court Locations

  • Teton County District Court – 9th Judicial District

    Address: 101 Main Avenue South, PO Box 487, Choteau, MT 59422
    Phone: 406-466-2909 Fax: 406-466-2910

  • Teton County Justice Court

    Address: 101 Main Avenue South, PO Box 337, Choteau, MT 59422
    Phone: 406-466-5611 Fax: 406-466-2138

  • Choteau City Court

    Address: 101 Main Avenue South, PO Box 337, Choteau, MT 59422
    Phone: 406-466-5611 Fax: 406-466-2138

  • Dutton City Court

    Address: 101 Main Avenue South, PO Box 337, Choteau, MT 59422
    Phone: 406-466-5611 Fax: 406-466-2138

  • Fairfield City Court

    Address: 101 Main Avenue South, PO Box 337, Choteau, MT 59422
    Phone: 406-466-5611 Fax: 406-466-2138

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