What Happens When You’re Arrested in Montana?

Unless you’ve been through it before, being arrested by law enforcement is one of the most frightening things that can happen to a person. You’ll be upset, confused, and likely not able to think as clearly as normally.

What you think of as an “arrest” is the legal process of law enforcement taking someone into their custody. If arrested, you’ve lost your liberty to be free and you will be taken to jail.


What happens next?

Unless there are special circumstances, anyone arrested will be admitted to bail. As part of the bail process, you can pay money to:

  1. Be released from police custody
  2. Assure the court you will return and not just disappear

Most jurisdictions in Montana have a bail schedule that sets standard bail amounts for different criminal offenses. A person can either pay “cash” bond, or use a bail bondsman.


Don’t let stress cause bad decisions

Did you know that spending any time in jail/prison is the #4 most stressful event in a person’s life? According to the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, only the death of a spouse, divorce, and marital separation are more stressful.

During any stressful time, you need help to make smart decisions. Talk to the Judnich Law Office to get expert counsel you can count on.


Cash or bail bond?

If you pay “cash” you can use a credit card, cash, or check to pay the full amount of the bail amount to be let free. You will get this money back in full once your court case is fully resolved.

On the other hand, if you use a bail bondsman, they usually only charge a fraction of the bail amount to you. Then they pay the full amount of the bail to get you out. Unfortunately, they keep the bond you paid and you don’t get any money back.

For example, if you have a $1,500 bail – you can pay $1,500 to the jail and be released, or you can usually pay around $150 to a bail bondsman and they will bail you out.


Going to court

After you bail out, you’ll eventually have to go to court. You will be given a citation by law enforcement and notified of a date by which you must appear in a specific court.

Do not ignore this: If you don’t show up in court, an arrest warrant will be issued for you. It will likely a very high bail on it.


Read more on the Judnich Law Blog


What happens when you do go to court?

Most people are very nervous about their initial court appearance, or arraignment in court. This will be the first time you appear in court after you’ve been arrested.

The good news is that this is usually a very standard hearing that moves quite quickly. The court will read the charges against you and ask you to plead guilty or not guilty right then and there.

If you want to fight your case or look into a plea deal – you plead not guilty and future court dates are set.

If you want to just get it over with and take your punishment, you plead guilty right there. Then you will be sentenced — perhaps at a later date. Pleading guilty at your first appearance is rarely a good idea as you have no control over what will happen and there are no guarantees.


Don’t go it alone — get a defense lawyer you can count on

If you’re arrested and want premier advice on how to navigate the complicated criminal justice system, let’s talk. Contact us or call (406) 721-3354 for a free consultation about your criminal case. The criminal defense lawyers at the Judnich Law Office are experienced in fighting cases involving:


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