Kalispell Municipal Court – Kalispell, MT

Oct 26, 2021

A municipal court is a court with small jurisdiction over criminal offenses and civil disputes inside its location. These courts can be located at the county or city level.

Kalispell Municipal Court INformation

Court: Kalispell Municipal Court
Address: “312 1st Avenue East, Kalispell, MT 59901”
Phone: 406-758-7705

City: Kalispell
County: Flathead
State: Montana

What is the purpose of the Kalispell Municipal Court?

Municipal Courts are commonly called “courts of limited jurisdiction.” Which means that they work with minor crimes, civil disputes, and traffic matters. Courthouses like Kalispell Municipal Court are the first level of court for these types of cases.

On the other hand, the purpose of a county court is to deal with a large number of civil disputes within the respective region. Most cases involve family law matters, accident cases, more serious criminal infractions, or breaches of contract.

County courts have the jurisdiction to deal with misdemeanors and civil actions that can not exceed the amount of $15k, while the circuits courts handle felonies and more expansive civil cases.

TYPES OF CASES seen IN A MUNICIPAL COURT in Kalispell, Montana

Municipal courts are the entry level of courts in the U.S.. They are usually found within the jurisdiction where they are located, but some locales share municipal courts with other municipalities.

This can be done to better serve their population or to save money on expenditures. The cases that may be heard by a municipal court depend on the municipality, but typically include traffic tickets, low level criminal charges and code infractions.

You will not see a set definition for what constitutes a misdemeanor crime versus a felony, but generally speaking felonies would require more time in jail than misdemeanor charges and fines may also be higher for felonies. Traffic violations usually result in points against your driver’s license as well

how are cases managed in the municipal court in Kalispell?

Municipal courts are the first tier of the court system in the United States. They have jurisdiction over minor crimes, traffic matters, and other civil matters. Municipal courts are popularly known city courts or town courts. Cases are handled by a magistrate who is usually a lawyer, judge, or retired judge. Magistrates may be appointed by the mayor or city council board to serve for a specific duration.

Judges preside over hearings to determine:

  • Probable cause for an arrest
  • Set bail amounts and conditions of release
  • Conduct arraignment hearings when charges are filed against defendants by police officers
  • Issue search warrants to police officers in order to protect evidence from crime locations
  • start preliminary inquiries to establish if there is enough evidence to mount a charge

The common process of a Municipal Court Case

The process of a municipal courthouse case can be difficult to navigate. The following is an overview of the steps involved in a regular municipal court case.

First Step: An Issuance of Summons

A summons is sent when a person has been charged with violating a local ordinance or state law. The citizen who has received the summons will need to appear at their assigned time and courthouse, which is usually the municipal courtroom, to answer for the charge(s) against them. If they fail to appear, they may be found guilty in absentia and could be fined up to $1k or given a jail sentence if it’s a serious enough offense.

Second Step: Appearance before Judge or Magistrate

If someone fails to respond after being summoned by the judge, there may be a warrant issued for the person. 

Municipal Court Penalties in Kalispell, MT

Penalties change often, which is why it’s good to speak with licensed attorney near you. The material below represents common penalties, but may not be 100% accurate for the Kalispell Municipal Court. 

A violation is a crime that has a penalty of $500 or less, while a misdemeanor can carry penalties up to $1000 or one year in local jail. A person’s driving privileges may be suspended for six months if they receive three speeding tickets within 12 months.

The penalties for different offenses in municipal courthouses vary depending on the severity of an charges. For example, if you are caught with marijuana without having a license for it then you could be fined up to $2,000 or spend up to six months in jail.

Kalispell Municipal Court Records

Municipal Court records from a municipal court could be difficult to find because they are not always stored in one area or system. The records that an individual might need to depend on the type of charge they have before the court, what stage it is at in the process, and what type of information is needed by law to be available.

Questions ABOUT the Kalispell Municipal Court

What is municipal court in Kalispell, Montana?

In Montana, the municipal court is a lower court with civil and criminal jurisdiction within a town or municipality. Municipal courts will have a small location and have limited authority as well, dealing only with petty offenses and misdemeanors.

What does the municipal court handle in Kalispell, Montana?

Depending on the size of the municipality, a municipal court can handle a civil division (cases with less than  $15,000 at issue), a traffic/criminal division, or a housing and environmental division. More serious cases/crimes are deal with by higher authorities.

How many judges does the Kalispell Municipal Court have?

The number of judges depends on the municipality’s size.

How are cases heard in municipal courts in Montana?

A municipal court judge may be either elected or appointed to serve for a set duration or until retirement. Judges are commonly chosen by the people with each precinct’s results evaluated based on the number of people. Municipal magistrates are generally not lawyers but have some legal education and must complete several hours of continuing education every year to maintain their licenses.