Criminal Defense Attorney Montana
If you have been accused of a criminal offense in Montana, you need an experienced and skilled criminal defense lawyer. Whether the charges against you are state or federal, the potential penalties can be severe. Depending on the allegations, you may be facing years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines, a lengthy and intrusive period of probation, and numerous other collateral consequences that come with having a criminal conviction on your record.
The Criminal Defense Firm can help you defend your rights and protect your future. With the vigorous legal representation of the senior lawyers at The Criminal Defense Firm, numerous defendants in Montana have obtained favorable results, mitigated sentencing, or outright acquittals, dismissals, or dropped charges.
Cases We Handle at The Criminal Defense Firm
The attorneys at The Criminal Defense Firm handle all sorts of criminal cases in Montana, including both state and federal charges. While there are exceptions, most of these charges fall into the following three categories:
- Property crimes, like theft or white collar offenses
- Sex offenses, like rape
- Violent crimes, like murder
Here are just a few of the most common criminal allegations that we help defendants fight against.
Assault and Battery
Often charged as state offenses, assault and battery typically come together for a single physical altercation. While assault is intentionally putting someone else in imminent fear of harm or physical contact, battery criminalizes the actual contact. Therefore, punching someone can lead to charges for both assault and battery – the assault occurs while the punch is being thrown, while the battery occurs when fist meets face.
Not all physical violence sustains charges for assault and battery, though. Many defendants can legitimately claim that they only acted in self-defense, justifying their use of what would otherwise be criminal violence.
Generally, robbery will be pursued as a state offense, unless it takes place on federal property or victimizes certain federal agents or other people covered by federal law. This is good for defendants because, according to Montana Code Annotated (MCA) 45-5-401, robbery generally requires a bodily injury or a threat of one, rather than just the mere use of force. What may pass for robbery in many other jurisdictions might not support the charge in the state of Montana.
This is very important because robbery is punished far more severely than theft. While it depends on the amount allegedly taken, theft is usually a misdemeanor carrying less than a year in jail. Robbery, on the other hand, is generally a felony that carries more than a year in prison. In Montana, a conviction for robbery comes with at least two years behind bars.
Perhaps the most severe criminal allegations that can be levied against you are those for murder. Also known as homicide, this is the intentional and unlawful killing of another human being. While other states categorize different types of murders into degrees, like first-degree murder and second-degree murder, Montana has:
- Deliberate homicide (MCA 45-5-102), largely equivalent to murder in the first-degree,
- Mitigated deliberate homicide (MCA 45-5-103), similar to murder in the second-degree,
- Negligent homicide (MCA 45-5-104), which is similar to manslaughter, and
- Vehicular homicide while driving under the influence (MCA 45-5-106), which is often called vehicular manslaughter in other states
All of these are serious offenses that carry decades in prison. Additionally, Montana is one of the states that allows for the death penalty, making some of these cases capital murder charges.
Fraud is the crime of unlawfully obtaining someone else’s property – usually their money – through deceptive conduct. Many minor instances of fraud and other related white collar offenses are pursued at the state level in Montana, including most charges for:
However, large-scale fraud cases, including those that reach across state lines, that affect a source of funding controlled by the federal government, or that fall under a federal statute may be pursued in federal court. Some of these instances involve:
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan fraud
- Bank fraud
- Computer fraud
- Securities fraud
- Healthcare fraud
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fraud
These cases are extremely complex and defending against them is very different from defending against allegations of a crime of violence. Evidence tends to be document-heavy and extremely technical. While the penalties of a conviction tend to focus on recouping the ill-gotten funds and imposing financial penalties, jail time is not unheard of.
Being represented by an attorney with lots of experience in fraud defense is essential.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
While driving under the influence (DUI) may seem like a trivial offense, especially when compared to other crimes like murder and robbery, it is likely the one that upstanding citizens in Montana are the most likely to find themselves accused of committing. Drunk driving or drugged driving is the result of a poor decision that people make when they are least able to make a good one. Even when this intoxication offense does not involve an accident or injuries, it can imperil your right to drive. If someone else was hurt or killed, you could be accused of vehicular assault or vehicular homicide in Montana, an offense that carries up to 30 years in prison.
Other Common Offenses We Handle
In addition to these common types of criminal allegations that we defend our clients against, we also help defendants who have been accused of the following courses of conduct in state or federal court:
- Burglary, including business, home, and vehicle burglary
- Crimes against children
- Domestic violence
- Drug crimes
- Insider trading
- Online pornography
- Sexual assault
- Tax evasion
- Making terroristic threats
Potential Penalties of a Conviction
The costs of a criminal conviction are severe. However, many people fail to fully appreciate the extent of those penalties and how much they will impact their future.
The most prominent and the harshest sanction that a conviction carries is prison time. Serious offenses – particularly sex offenses and crimes of violence – carry more prison time than others. However, even spending six months in jail can turn your life upside down. You will probably lose your job. Without earning an income during those six months, any debts that you have will go unpaid. You will likely lose your car if you are still paying it off or your house if you have a mortgage, and will likely be evicted if you rent an apartment.
Most criminal convictions also carry a fine. This can saddle you with thousands of dollars of debt when you do finish your prison sentence.
Once you are out of jail, though, you are still not completely free. Many convictions come with a period of probation to be served after your release from prison. Probation can last for multiple years and can be very intrusive and demanding of your time.
Finally, there are the collateral consequences of having a criminal conviction on your record. When private parties see that you have been convicted for a crime, they are likely to discriminate against you. Depending on the nature of the prior offense, this can make it more difficult for you to find a job, rent an apartment, or get a loan.
The repercussions of a criminal conviction last for decades or more.
Some Frequently Asked Questions About The Criminal Defense Firm and the Services We Provide
What is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?
The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is one year in confinement: Misdemeanors are crimes that carry less than a year in jail, while felonies are crimes that carry more than a year in prison.
Importantly, this is for potential jail time. A successful defense during the sentencing stage can reduce a felony conviction down to less than a year in prison.
Felonies also carry harsher collateral consequences than misdemeanors do. For example, many professional licenses are off-limits to people who have a felony on their record.
What is the Best Defense Strategy?
The best defense strategy will depend on the circumstances surrounding your particular case as well as your interests. If nothing short of an absolute acquittal is acceptable, then The Criminal Defense Firm will strive for that result. If law enforcement overreached and violated your civil rights, then our senior attorneys will use that to exclude evidence from your trial and undermine the prosecutor’s case against you. If there are factual weaknesses in the case against you, then our lawyers will use them to instill reasonable doubts in the jury in an attempt to secure a favorable result.
Why Doesn’t The Criminal Defense Firm Call Itself the Best?
Because that is something that we prefer to let our prior clients say about The Criminal Defense Firm. However, our team of seasoned defense lawyers and professionals have a long list of success stories both inside the courtroom and outside out it, leading to numerous testimonials from our happy clients.
Reach Out to The Criminal Defense Firm for Help
You need a skilled defense team at your side throughout the court process. The Criminal Defense Firm defends people who have been accused of a crime in Montana. Reach out to us by contacting us online or by calling our law firm at (866) 603-4540.