Montana State Legislature

Department of Justice

The mission of the Department of Justice (DOJ) is to pursue activities and programs that seek to ensure and promote the public interest, safety, and well-being through leadership, advocacy, education, regulation, and enforcement.

The Legal Services Division (LSD) provides:

  • Legal research and analysis for the Attorney General
  • Legal counsel for state government officials, bureaus, and boards
  • Legal assistance to local governments and Indian tribes
  • Legal assistance, training, and support for county prosecutors
  • Assistance to victims of crime, including compensation payments

Within the Legal Services Division are several bureaus and offices including:

  • The Prosecution Services Bureau assists local county attorneys by providing training and assisting in the prosecution of complex criminal cases, particularly homicide cases The Appellate Services Bureau handles appeals of criminal matters, including death penalty cases, and represents the state in federal court when constitutional challenges are made to a criminal conviction
  • The Civil Services Bureau defends the state in constitutional challenges and coordinates appeals of civil cases that involve the state
  • The Child Protection Unit handles child abuse and neglect cases around Montana
  • The Office of Consumer Protection advocates on behalf of Montana Consumers, investigates consumer complaints and enforces consumer protection laws
  • The Office of Victim Services (OVS) works to elevate the status of victims and their rights and responds to the needs of crime victims in Montana

Montana Highway Patrol is responsible for patrolling the highways of Montana, enforcing traffic laws, and investigating traffic crashes. The patrol provides 24-hour seven-day-a-week communication and radio dispatch for the highway patrol and other state agencies.

Information Technology Services Division provides a full range of information technology and criminal justice services for the department including system development and maintenance of motor vehicle titling and registration systems, driver license and history system, criminal history record information system and the Sexual and Violent Offender Registry. The Criminal Justice Information Network (CJIN) links law enforcement and criminal justice agencies with information sources at local, state, and national levels.

Division of Criminal Investigation investigates crimes, provides for fire safety inspections, and provides officer training including operation of the Montana Law Enforcement Academy. Investigators conduct criminal investigations of homicide, fraud, robbery, assault, corruption, arson, organized crime, computer crime, dangerous drug activity, and other felony crimes. The division also has specialized criminal investigation units for workers’ compensation, public assistance, Medicaid, legislative audit and computer crime fraud.

Gambling Control Division has criminal justice authority and conducts routine field inspections and investigations related to gambling activities. In addition to collecting and distributing licensing fees for gambling machines and activities, the division is responsible for collecting the gambling tax assessed on the net proceeds of gambling activities, and investigative functions relating to alcoholic beverage licensing and tobacco enforcement. An appointed gaming advisory council of nine members provides advisory services to the department.

Forensic Science Division, which includes the state crime lab in Missoula, provides for a statewide system of death investigation, forensic science training, and scientific criminal investigation and analysis of specimens. The division tests firearms, tool marks, hair, fibers, body fluids, and tissues. The laboratory also analyzes blood and urine samples, and provides the certification, maintenance, and training of all law enforcement personnel on breath testing instruments.

Motor Vehicle Division is responsible for examination and licensure of motor vehicle drivers, maintenance of driver and motor vehicle records, titling and registration of vehicles, inspection and verification of vehicle identification numbers, and licensure and compliance control of motor vehicle dealers and manufacturers.

Central Services Division provides the administrative, personnel, budgetary, accounting, and fiscal support for the department. This division also administers payment of the state contribution toward county attorney costs.

POST (Peace Officers Standards and Training Council) is administratively attached to the Department of Justice and establishes basic and advanced qualifications and training standards for employment of Montana’s public safety officers.


This report includes a series of charts that compare expenditure growth to the growth in the economy and growth in inflation adjusted for population. Montana statute, 17-8-106, MCA, recommends using growth in personal income for comparison purposes. Personal income is a measure for growth in the economy. Comparing growth allows financial planners to consider past and future demands in services or changes in revenues.

The following list discusses in more detail the inflection points on the charts:

1. In the 2003 biennium, general fund increases included statewide present law adjustments for personal services and a $1.5 million increase for SB 254 with the creation of the office of victim services. State special revenue funds increased by $3.8 million. The majority of this increase is from the highways state special revenue account for present law adjustments within the highway patrol division. Federal funds increased by $3.0 million, with the increase primarily for legislative contract authority.

2. In FY 2006 and FY 2007, the legislature added funding for additional prisoner per diem of $1.3 million to pay for jail time for arrests related to driving with a suspended driver’s license due to a DUI conviction or refusal to test for alcohol, provided support for the Montana Drug Task Force of $1.5 million that was previously funded with federal funds, provided funding for HB 447 pay plan increase of $3.1 million, and funded the installation of the automated accounting and reporting system with $1.1 million.

3. General fund was reduced in the 2005 biennium primarily through a number of funding switches. This was due to an addition of several state special revenue funds including: $6.3 million in the non-restricted highways state special revenue account in the motor vehicle division and $2.4 million in the non-restricted highways state special revenue account in the highway patrol division for prisoner per diem costs, and $2.2 million in the law enforcement academy.

4. In FY 2017, state special revenues increased due to HB 650, which transferred $6.6 million from the consumer education fund to long range planning for the construction of the Montana Law Enforcement Academy, creation of state special revenue account for fees collected by medical examinations, an increase in motor vehicle division administrative fees, and the partition of 4 cents of gas tax into a new account for the Montana Highway Patrol.

General fund

General fund increases generally followed inflationary trends with the exception of the inflection points discussed above.  

State special revenue

The majority of growth in expenditures within the Department of Justice has been in state special revenue.

Legislative Changes


  • SB 26 –This bill removes the requirement for courts to pay travel costs for prosecution witnesses and appropriated $51,245 in FY 2020 and $51,245 in FY 2021 in HB 2 in the Legal Services Division. SB 26 reduced the same amount in the District Court Operations in the Judicial Branch for witness expenses
  • SB 52 –This bill revises laws relating to sexual assault evidence kits and creates a process for sexual assault evidence kits to be created, collected and delivered to a law enforcement agency. The funding for SB 52 is appropriated in HB 2 to the Forensic Science Division
  • SB 352 –This bill appropriated $3,750,000 in FY 2020 and $3,750,000 in FY 2021 in state special revenue for the purpose of upgrading and maintaining existing public safety radio system infrastructure for the benefit of law enforcement agencies statewide
  • HB 21 –This bill authorizes the Department of Justice to assist with the investigation of all missing persons cases and requires the employment of a missing persons specialist. The objectives of this bill will require 1.00 FTE Compliance Specialist to provide this assistance
  • HB 543 –This bill requires the Department of Justice to remove records and data from specific applications in the event of criminal records needing to be expunged. Additional 0.25 FTE will be necessary to remove records from systems and complete programming changes
  • HB 715 –This bill appropriates $230,000 in general fund and $1,460,000 in state special revenue funds in FY 2020 and $220,000 in general fund and $1,460,000 in state special revenue funds in FY 2021. HB 715 appropriates a total of 6.25 new permanent FTE in FY 2020 and a total of 12.25 new permanent FTE in FY 2021
  • HB 749 –This bill allows for a two-person human trafficking team consisting of two agents from the Division of Criminal Investigation. State special revenue of $519,815 will be appropriated in fiscal year 2020


  • HB 650 –This bill establishes several new state special revenue accounts and the established fees to fund the new accounts to support DOJ’s programs including the medical examiner account, the motor vehicle division account, the highway patrol administration account, and the court appointed special advocate account. The bill also increased temporary vehicle registration fees and required the additional fees be deposited into a state special revenue fund to support the Montana Law Enforcement Academy


  • SB 361 – This bill allows video line games in licensed establishments
  • HB 367 – This bill allows delayed implementation of the vehicle insurance verification system until January 1, 2013
  • HB 195 – This bill changed the driver’s license format to include resident address


  • SB 508 –This bill creates a requirement for an online vehicle insurance verification system, with an implementation date set for January 10, 2010


  • SB 273—This bill moved the Peace Officers Standards and Training Council (POST) from the Board of Crime Control to the Department of Justice
  • HB 630—This bill made internet phishing a crime
  • HB 12—This bill added state contributions for 50.0% of county attorney’s salaries


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Legislative Studies

Law & Justice Interim Committee work


Audit Reports

Financial Compliance Audit - Department of Justice - May 2019



HJ 4, Study criminal proceedings and commitment of people with mental illness

HB 35  Establish a missing persons review commission

HB 36  establish missing persons response team training grant program 

HB 72 and fiscal note  Revise Highway Patrol Retirement System

HB 73  Revise laws related to the criminal justice oversight council

HB 83 and amendments  Revise vehicle laws

HB 84  Revise driver laws

HB 90  Create an emergency protective services hearing in child protective service removals

HB 91  Revise violent offender registry laws

HB 92  Establish compensation program for wrongfully convicted individuals

HB 98  Extending the missing indigenous persons task force and the LINC grant program 

HB 102  Revise gun laws

HB 105  Revise unlawful transactions with children laws

HB 109  Provide for enforcement of seatbelt laws

HB 110  Revising laws related to obstruction of a peace officer or public servant

HB 112 and amendments  Require interscholastic athletes to participate under sex assigned at birth

HB 113  Provide for youth health protection

HB 114  Privacy in communication exception laws

HB 115  Increase penalties for 5th and subsequent DUI

HB 116  Indoor cleanup standards for methamphetamine

HB 126  Revise laws concerning conduct of persons with alcoholism and drug addiction

HB 136  Establish pain-capable unborn child protection act

HB 140  Requiring provision of information before the performance of an abortion

HB 141 Revising vehicle and vessel title transfer laws

HB 144  Revise laws for preserving authority of sheriffs, constables and peace officers

HB 164, Revise temporary automatic domestic relations orders

HB 165, Increase vehicle fees to reduce residential property taxes

HB 167, Referendum to adopt the Montana Born-Alive Infant Protection Act

HB 171, Adopt the Montana Abortion Inducing Drug Risk Protocol Act

HB 175, Generally revising consumer good repair laws

HB 183, Eliminate requirement that offenders pay public defender fees

HB 189, Revise criminal sentencing and judgement laws

HB 194, Revise vehicle liability insurance parameters

HB 197, Revise laws related to gambling and player information

HB 200, Prohibiting sanctuary cities in Montana

HB 209, Generally revise family laws relating to children and parents

HB 211, Provide compensation and assistance for secondary victims

HB 223, Create statutory authority for sworn law enforcement officers to hold aliens

HB 239, Lower disability threshold for certain fee waivers to 80%

HB 243, Generally revise laws related to law enforcement officers

HB 244, Revise death penalty laws related to lethal injection

HB 256, Revise child restraint laws

HB 258, Revise laws related to firearms, ammunition, and accessories

HB 264, Revise emergency vehicle passing laws

HB 266, Revise license plate laws

HB 267, Improve school bus safety laws

HB 272, Generally revise motor vehicle laws

HB 309, Add tribal police/agents to MDT forms

HB 310, Revise sexual assault reporting laws

HB 313, revise medical examiner/coroner laws

HB 317, Revise state employee laws related to travel expenses

HB 325, Elect supreme court justices by districts

HB 335, Repeal Death Penalty

HB 342, Revise judicial election laws

HB 351, Revise disability parking laws

HB 368, Adopt uniform premarital and marital agreements act

HB 377, Revise criminal penalties for certain threats of violence

HB 386, Allow search and rescue auxiliary officers to carry weapon

HB 391, Revise and enhance penalties for criminal distribution of dangerous drugs

HB 393, Revise laws related to amendment of a parenting plan due to change in residence

HB 399, Revise criminal sentencing laws for youth offenders


SB 4 and fiscal note  Extend Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force

SB 9  Motorcycle filtering

SB 31  Require consideration of less restrictive options in guardianship proceedings

SB 32  Revise monitoring requirements of guardians of adults

SB 39 and fiscal note  Revise laws related to sexual offender evaluations and treatment

SB 49 and fiscal note  Generally revise gambling laws

SB 62, Revise unlawful possession laws

SB 64, Revise compliance with federal REAL ID Act

SB 67, Revise laws pertaining to law enforcement

SB 69, Revise settlement laws

SB 71, Remove penalties for law enforcement re: health officer assistance

SB 79, Revise laws regarding vehicle salvage certificates and certificates of title

SB 81, Include prepaid wireless in 9-1-1 tax

SB 83, Revise special lien laws

SB 104, Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act

SB 127, Revise laws on the selection of municipal court judges

SB 129, Revise alcohol laws relating to department investigations

SB 141, Prohibition on alteration of law by state court

SB 150, Revise seatbelt regulations

SB 151, Eliminate religious exemption regarding reporting sexual abuse

SB 156, Protect drivers license private data

SB 168, Revise lien laws

SB 175, Revise contributions to the judges’ retirement system

SB 189, Authorize historical horseracing gambling

SB 203, Constitutional amendment regarding electronic communications

SB 219, Provide for release of call location to law enforcement in an emergency

SB 220, Revise assault on a peace officer laws

SB 223, Revise weapons laws for retired law enforcement

SB 232, Revise laws related to highway patrol compensation

SB 237, Revise community renewable energy project requirements

SB 240, Revise crime reporting laws

SB 242, Prohibit transfer or sale of consumer GPS data without permission

HB 472, Revise liability under the consumer protection act (Justice)

HB 492, Protecting children on the internet act (Justice)

Agency profile information is provided by the Legislative Fiscal Division.

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