A felony in Montana is a serious crime that is punishable by death or a term of one year or more in prison. Montana does not classify felony crimes into different classes. The Montana criminal statutes provide the possible penalties for each individual felony.
For information on misdemeanors, see Montana Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.
Felonies in Montana range from deliberate murder—the most serious felony crime in the state—to sexual assault, kidnapping, aggravated assault, robbery, and criminal distribution of dangerous drugs. The following are specific examples of felonies and the possible penalties under Montana law:
- Deliberate murder – life in prison, 10 to 100 years in prison, or the death penalty.
- Negligent homicide – up to 20 years in prison or a fine up to $50,000, or both.
- Sexual assault (rape) – a fine up to $50,000 and life in prison; or 2 to 100 years in prison.
- Aggravated assault – up to 20 years in prison or a fine up to $50,000, or both.
- Robbery – 2 to 40 years in prison and a fine up to $50,000 (optional).
- Criminal possession of dangerous drugs (opiates) – 2 to 5 years in prison and a fine up to $50,000 (optional).
Criminal Statute of Limitations
Montana law requires that a criminal prosecution begin within a certain amount of time after a crime is committed or believed to have been committed. The criminal statute of limitations limits the length of time the state can wait before filing charges against a person. The length of time varies for different crimes and some, such as murder and homicide, have no time limit. For more information on the criminal statute of limitations, see Criminal Statute of Limitations in Montana.
The Value of Good Representation
A felony conviction becomes part of your permanent criminal record. If you are convicted later of another felony, the court can consider your prior conviction and impose a harsher sentence in the new case. Being a convicted felon can hurt you when you are looking for a job and applying to rent a house or apartment. Convicted felons can lose the right to vote, to carry firearms, and to obtain certain professional licenses.
An experienced attorney can determine whether you have any grounds for dismissal of the charges against you, explore plea options, or represent you at trial. Only someone familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome in court or at the negotiating table. A knowledgeable attorney will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.