Montana Code Annotated 2021



Part 2. Procedure on Arraignment

Manner Of Conducting Arraignment -- Use Of Two-Way Electronic Audio-Video Communication -- Exception

46-12-201. Manner of conducting arraignment -- use of two-way electronic audio-video communication -- exception. (1) Arraignment must be conducted in open court and must consist of reading the charge to the defendant or stating to the defendant the substance of the charge and calling on the defendant to plead to the charge. The defendant must be given a copy of the charging document before being called upon to plead. For purposes of this chapter, an arraignment that is conducted by the use of two-way electronic audio-video communication, allowing all of the participants to be heard in the courtroom by all present and allowing the party to be seen, is considered to be an arraignment in open court.

(2) The court shall inquire of the defendant or the defendant's counsel the defendant's true name, and if the defendant's true name is given as any other than that used in the charge, the court shall order the defendant's name to be substituted for the name under which the defendant is charged.

(3) The court shall determine whether the defendant is under any disability that would prevent the court, in its discretion, from proceeding with the arraignment. The arraignment may be continued until the court determines the defendant is able to proceed.

(4) Whenever the law requires that a defendant in a misdemeanor or felony case be taken before a court for an arraignment, this requirement may be satisfied by two-way electronic audio-video communication if neither party objects and the court agrees to its use and has informed the defendant that the defendant has the right to object to its use. The audio-video communication must operate so that the defendant and the judge can see each other simultaneously and converse with each other, so that the defendant and the defendant's counsel, if any, can communicate privately, and so that the defendant and the defendant's counsel are both physically present in the same place during the two-way electronic audio-video communication. The defendant may waive the requirement that the defendant's counsel be in the defendant's physical presence during the two-way electronic audio-video communication.

(5) A judge may order a defendant's physical appearance in court for arraignment. In a felony case, a judge may not accept a plea of guilty or nolo contendere from a defendant unless the defendant is physically present in the courtroom or is appearing before the court by means of two-way electronic audio-video communication.

History: En. 95-1606 by Sec. 1, Ch. 196, L. 1967; R.C.M. 1947, 95-1606(a), (b), (c); amd. Sec. 6, Ch. 710, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 131, Ch. 800, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 7, Ch. 395, L. 1999; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 222, L. 2005.