The requirements and responsibilities of registration for sexual or violent offenders are explained in Title 46 Chapter 23 Part 5 of the Montana Code Annotated.
Notification to register - Typically, offenders are informed of their registration duties upon conviction of certain sexual or violent offenses. They may also be notified of their requirements to register via court order, their probation/parole officer, or a notice from the Registration Unit.
Registration form - The law enforcement agency where the offender lives completes a standard registration form that asks for basic information such as:
- date of birth
- conviction information
The offender then initials and signs the last page of the registration form, which lays out his or her responsibilities as a registered offender. The offender is also fingerprinted and photographed. Copies of the form, fingerprints and photo are sent to the Sexual or Violent Offender Registration Unit.
Offenders convicted in federal court, tribal court or out of state - A sexual or violent offender is required to register in Montana if his or her out-of-state or tribal conviction:
- is for a violation of a federal or tribal law or another state’s law that is reasonably equivalent to a violation that requires registration in Montana, or
- required the offender to register as a sexual offender in that jurisdiction.
Juvenile sexual offenders - Juveniles adjudicated as sexual offenders in Montana are required to register in Montana unless they have been relieved by the court of their duty to register.
Juvenile violent offenders - A juvenile adjudicated as a violent offender is not required to register in Montana unless ordered to do so by the court.
Note: Although the Montana Department of Justice maintains the Registry, it has no legal authority to direct where a sexual or violent offender may or may not live. Unless court-ordered restrictions exist, these offenders are constitutionally free to live wherever they choose.
Limitations on place of residence - Montana’s registration statute does not restrict registered offenders from residing in certain areas. However, under MCA 46-18-255, a judge may impose restrictions on an offender’s place of residence if the offender was convicted of a sexual offense against a minor and designated a Level 3 offender. A judge also may impose restrictions on an offender’s place of residence as a condition of probation.
Physical address - MCA 46-23-504 requires physical addresses from every registrant. If no physical address exists, registrants must provide directions to their place of residence. Post Office boxes do not meet registration requirements.
Verification - The Registration Unit mails address verification letters to:
- all registrants on an annual basis
- Level 2 sexual offenders every 180 days
- Level 3 sexual offenders every 90 days
Offenders must verify their current address and return the form to the appropriate registration agency in person.
Status change - Under MCA 46-23-505, offenders must within three days of a change of address, name or student, employment or transient status appear in person and notify the local law enforcement agency with which they were last registered.
Transient offenders - Sexual offenders who do not regularly reside at a residence that can be located by a street address are considered transient. Transient offenders must:
- register within three days of entering a county of Montana
- report in person on a monthly basis with the registering agency
- provide to the registering agency the locations where they stayed during the previous 30 days and intend to stay during the next 30 days
Length of Registration
Sexual offenders are required to register for life, under MCA 46-23-506.
Violent offenders are required to register for 10 years from their conviction date or from their prison release date. If they are convicted of a felony offense during that time, they are then required to register for life in accordance with MCA 46-23-506.
After 10 years, violent offenders may petition the sentencing court or the district court for the judicial district in which they reside for an order relieving them of the duty to register. The petition must be served on the county attorney in the county where the petition is filed and must be granted if the offender has not been convicted of a felony offense while he or she was required to register.
Failure to Register
Non-compliant registrants do not have a currently known address or have failed to keep their registration current. Information is provided on these registrants as allowed under MCA 44-5-103(13)(f), which allows the dissemination of information necessary to secure the public’s assistance in apprehending a suspect.
Local law enforcement and the Sexual or Violent Offender Registration Unit make a constant effort to locate non-compliant registrants. Please contact your local law enforcement agency with any information you may have on such an offender’s whereabouts.
Penalties - A sexual or violent offender who knowingly fails to register, verify registration, or keep registration current, may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years or may be fined not more than $10,000, or both under MCA 46-23-507.