Montana Code Annotated 2021



Part 1. General Provisions

Absence Of Defendant From Trial

46-16-122. Absence of defendant from trial. (1) In a misdemeanor case, if the defendant fails to appear in person, either at the time set for the trial or at any time during the course of the trial and if the defendant's counsel is authorized to act on the defendant's behalf, the court shall proceed with the trial unless good cause for continuance exists.

(2) If the defendant's counsel is not authorized to act on the defendant's behalf as provided in subsection (1) or if the defendant is not represented by counsel, the court, in its discretion, may do one or more of the following:

(a) order a continuance;

(b) order bail forfeited;

(c) issue an arrest warrant; or

(d) proceed with the trial after finding that the defendant had knowledge of the trial date and is voluntarily absent.

(3) After the trial of a felony offense has commenced in the defendant's presence, the absence of the defendant during the trial may not prevent the trial from continuing up to and including the return of a verdict if the defendant:

(a) has been removed from the courtroom for disruptive behavior after receiving a warning that removal will result if the defendant persists in conduct that is so disruptive that the trial cannot be carried on with the defendant in the courtroom; or

(b) is voluntarily absent and the offense is not one that is punishable by death.

(4) Nothing in this section limits the right of the court to order the defendant to be personally present at the trial for purposes of identification unless defense counsel stipulates to the issue of identity.

History: En. Sec. 127, Ch. 800, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 37, Ch. 262, L. 1993.