Search · MCA Contents

2015 Edition

    Hits on Page
    "All" vs. "Any"
    Phonetic Searching
    Begins With Searching
    Noise Words
Scope of Constitution and Law
Preface to MCA
Contact Us


The Internet version of the MCA has two avenues to finding a section of law: burrowing through the table of contents and searching.

The Table of Contents is an arriange of the law based upon subject matter. The name of a Title, chapter, part, and section reflect its subject matter. Within the Table of Contents click on the most appropriate Title, then chapter, then part, and finally section. When you are at a section, you can browse backwards and foreward through sections.

Searching is based upon the whether certain key words are present in a section.

Each MCA section is a separate web page. This allows copying a pasting material from a section into a document.


Hits on Page:

The search engine will find pages that match your search criteria, but it does not bold or otherwise highlight a search term within a page (this is also the case with most internet search engines). If you want to search within a page for a certain term you must use the browser's "find" function. With Microsoft Internet Explorer go to "Edit", "Find (on this Page)...", enter the search word and then click on "Find Next". With Netscape Communicator go to "Edit", "Find in Page", enter the search word, and click on "Find Next".

"All" vs. "Any":

If you enter more than one word to search for, the search engine will apply Boolean (and/or) logic to determine what pages match your search.

Selecting "all" in the Find pages with popup menu performs a Boolean AND search if more than one word is provided to search with. For example, a search using the words "Gretzky Great One" is essentially looking for "Gretzky" AND "Great" AND "One" on the same page. Only pages that contain all of the search words are returned.

Selecting "any" in the Find pages with popup menu performs a Boolean OR search if more than one word is provided to search with. Any page with at least one of the search words will be returned.

AND searching ("all") will usually return a smaller list of pages found. OR searching ("any") will generally produce a much larger number of pages found, especially when many keywords are entered in the search string.

Phonetic Searching:

The search engine will search for words phonetically if you check the "Search Phonetically" check box. This can be helpful if you are unsure of the spelling of a word. For example, searching for "Greatski" or "Gredsky" will find pages with the word "Gretzky". For phonetic searching to work, the first letter of the word must be correct.

Begins With Searching:

Selecting the Begins With Searching option performs a basic wild card search. The index is searched for words that start with each search term. For example, entering the word "goal" will find pages with "goal", "goalie", "goalkeeper", "goalpost", etc.


Search results are always sorted by relevance (the most relevant first). Relevance is based on the number of occurrences and positioning of words as they appear in each document. For example, words in the HTML TITLE tag are weighted heavier than words that are contained in the body of the page. The search engine gives increased weight to words occurring in the catchline.

The most relevant page is displayed showing 100% relevance. Each additional page displays a percentage relative to the most relevant page. For example, if the most relevant page scored a 20 and the next page scored 16, the second page would display a relevance of 80%.

Noise Words:

The search engine does not include common words such as "also", "been" and "there" in the index. These words are ignored when searching. If one or more is used in a search, a message will be displayed on the results page indicating which words were noise words.


Some punctuation characters within words are indexed. This makes it possible to search for words like "CD-ROM" or "Version 2.5". Apostrophes, such as in contractions like "don't", are not indexed.

The characters $ and - are indexed when they appear at the beginning of words. Characters , . / - and $ are indexed when they appear inside a word. Punctuation at the end of words is never indexed.

When searching, you may need to try several possible combinations of a word containing punctuation. A word such as "e-mail", which is not consistently hyphenated, is a good example.

Scope of Constitution and Law: This version contains the enactments of the 2015 regular session. The annotations, other than histories, are not provided in the Internet version of the MCA. For annotations consult either the printed Annotations to the MCA or the CD-ROM version of the MCA. The printed version is availble at most libraries in Montana and both are for sale by the Legislative Services Divsion.

Preface to MCA:
    Numbering System
    Editorial Changes
    Code Commissioner Reports
    Effect of Changes


Senate Bill No. 1, adopting the Montana Code Annotated (cited "MCA"), was passed by the 1979 Legislature and became effective January 10, 1979. That bill became Chapter 1, Laws of 1979. The provisions of law relating to recodification are found in Title 1, chapter 11, MCA.


The MCA is a compilation of existing general and permanent law, including the acts of the 64th Legislature of 2015 in regular session. Appropriation acts, resolutions, and laws temporary or special in character, such as repealing, validating, severability, or effective date clauses, are not codified. A list of R.C.M. 1947 sections not codified may be found in the Table of Corresponding Code Sections, R.C.M. 1947 to MCA, contained in Vol. 1 of the annotations, which provides the disposition of all R.C.M. 1947 sections.


The Montana Code Annotated is arranged topically. This feature distinguishes the MCA from the 1947 code, in which the titles were arranged alphabetically. The user of the MCA will find titles that relate closely to one another logically and topically grouped in the code. Continuous rearrangement designed to maintain an orderly and logical arrangement is a permanent feature of the code under authority of section 1-11-204(3)(b), MCA.

Numbering System

The code uses a three-element numbering system. The number to the far left designates the title number, the number between the hyphens designates the chapter number, and the number to the right designates the part and section number. Thus 1-2-305 indicates Title 1, chapter 2, part 3, section 5. Numbering is sequential, but numbers within chapters and parts and between titles have been skipped (reserved) to leave room for future expansion.

Editorial Changes

During the continuing recodification process, the Legislative Services Division staff screens statutes for obsolescence, conflicts, unconstitutionality, and incorrect grammar, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, numbering, and outlining.

Changes in style that can be made in the text without changing the substance of the law are incorporated by the staff during codification. Errors, inconsistencies, and unconstitutional statutes that were discovered have been corrected by bills introduced in the 1977 through 2015 legislative sessions at the request of the Code Commissioner.

During the initial recodification process, nonsubstantive changes were made in the following areas:

(1) Punctuation. Being heavily laden with commas, the 1947 code did not conform with the more modern "open" style of punctuation that uses commas sparingly. The modern style allowed deletion of an average of five commas per section and more than 125,000 commas from the new code with no change in meaning, but with clarity enhanced.

(2) Spelling. The staff corrected obvious misspellings and updated archaic spellings with preferred spellings according to Webster's New World Dictionary.

(3) Grammatical Construction. There were three types of corrections that were made often under this category: making a pronoun agree with its antecedent in number, gender, and person; changing "nor" to "or"; and changing a verb to agree in number with the subject of a sentence.

(4) Internal Numbering. A uniform system of numbering internal paragraphs in a section was used: (1)(2)(3), (a)(b)(c), (i)(ii)(iii), (A)(B)(C). Thus, if the R.C.M. section began with "(a)(b)(c)", it was changed to "(1)(2)(3)".

(5) "This Act". The term "this act" was used thousands of times in the R.C.M. During recodification, "act" was changed wherever possible to a more precise term, such as "title", "chapter", "part", or "section". The original act was studied to determine exactly to which statutes the words "this act" applied, and the appropriate references were then substituted.

(6) Effective Date. The calendar date was inserted whenever possible for expressions such as "the effective date of this act", "passage and approval", or "hereafter".

(7) Changes or Insertions Because of Rearrangement. Language was inserted or changed whenever necessitated by rearrangement.

(8) Redundancy. Redundant words were eliminated.

(9) Obsolete or Inaccurate References to Offices or Agencies. There were many code sections needing changes because later acts affected names and terminology. For instance, the Executive Reorganization Act of 1971 abolished or renamed hundreds of offices and agencies. The recodification staff members searched the code for references to abolished or renamed offices and agencies. They also studied any amendments made between 1971 and 1977 that made further changes in the Executive Branch. After careful study to determine the law, the language was changed during the recodification process to reflect the current legal status of all affected offices or agencies.

Code Commissioner Reports

All changes, other than punctuation, capitalization, and spelling, made by the staff during the initial recodification are reported in the Official Report of the Montana Code Commissioner contained in the unnumbered volume of the 1978 MCA (red edition). Following each legislative session, all such changes made since the last report are reported and published in annotations, Vol. 1 (see section 1-11-204(3)(c), MCA).

Effect of Changes

No presumption of legislative construction is to be drawn from the MCA code arrangement (section 1-11-103, MCA). In case of inconsistencies resulting from omissions or other errors in codification, the version of the official enrolled bill on file with the Secretary of State will prevail. Codification does not change the law, and the effect of each statute is the same as when originally enacted. Because the Code Commissioner has no legislative power, there can be no change in the law without legislative sanction. The function of codification is to organize law, not to change law.


(1) Constitution and Rules of Court. The code as adopted by Chapter 1, Laws of 1979, consists only of statute text and histories. The 1972 Montana Constitution, the Montana Rules of Civil Procedure, the Montana Rules of Appellate Procedure, the Montana Rules of Evidence, the Montana Uniform District Court Rules, the Montana Justice and City Court Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Montana Uniform Municipal Court Rules of Appeal to District Court are printed with the code for the convenience of the user.

(2) Compiler's Comments. Compiler's comments related to 2013 amendments and to certain significant earlier changes are printed with the code. Amendment notes contain the effective date of the amendment (see section 1-2-201, MCA). Earlier amendment notes have been transferred to the annotations. Compiler's comments related to other items of permanent significance are contained in the annotations (see the preface in Vol. 1 of the annotations).

(3) Histories. The user is cautioned to note that the reported history of each section in the MCA brought forward from the former code is the same history of the section as it appeared in the old code. When an R.C.M. section was split into several MCA sections, the history may be confusing or even misleading. To redo all histories to have them coincide exactly with MCA sections would have been nearly impossible. Legislative histories begin with the Bannack Statutes of 1864-65. References to the California Code and the Field Code of New York are also included since those codes are the source of Montana's 1892 Civil Code.

Legislative action taken since the 1979 recodification has been added to the end of the history.

Abbreviations used in the MCA histories are as follows:
Ad. -- Adopted
amd. -- Amended
Ap.p. -- Appears in Part
C. -- Code
C. Civ. Proc. -- Code of Civil Procedure
Cal. -- California
Ch. -- Chapter
Civ. C. -- Civil Code
Cod. -- Codified
Comp. -- Compiled
Const. Amend. No. -- Constitutional Amendment Number
Const. Initiative No. -- Constitutional Initiative Number
Div. -- Division
En. -- Enacted
Exec. Ord. -- Executive Order
Ex. L. -- Extra Laws
Field -- Field Code of New York
I.M. No. -- Initiative Measure Number
I.R. No. -- Initiative Referendum Number
L. -- Laws of
MCA -- Montana Code Annotated
p. -- Page
Pen. C. -- Penal Code
Pol. C. -- Political Code
R.C.M. -- Revised Codes of Montana
redes. -- Redesignated
re-en. -- Reenacted
Ref. -- No. -- Referendum Number
rep. -- Repealed
Rev. -- Revised
Sec. -- Section
Sp. L. -- Special Session Laws
Stat. -- Statutes
Sup. Ct. Ord. -- Supreme Court Order

Code Commissioner
September 2015

Contact Us:

We cannot give legal advice. Please limit your contacts to matters relating to the operation of the MCA web site. Thank you.

e-mail: Dale Matheson
telephone: 406 444-3064
fax: 406 444-3036

Post mail:
Legislative Services Division
State Capitol
PO Box 201706
Helena MT 59620-1706

Disclaimer: The Internet version of the Montana Code Annotated is provided as a research tool to users of the Code. In case of inconsistencies resulting from omissions or other errors, the printed version will prevail.

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