Eyewitness Identification Reform

In 2012, the Montana Law Enforcement Agency (MLEA) released a model policy for eyewitness identification procedures. The model policy includes: blind/blinded administration, proper use of fillers, proper instructions to the witness, witness confidence statements, and audio/video documentation of the identification procedure, if practicable. The MLEA policy also includes procedure for show up identifications. Additionally, law enforcement agencies covering at least 80% of the state's population are now in reform through voluntary compliance. Policy adopted: 2012.

Read the MLEA model policy

Montana Law Enforcement Agencies in Reform for Eyewitness Identification

Recording of Interrogations

State statute requires law enforcement to electronically record the entirety of their custodial interviews of suspects in felony crimes. Any statement made by the accused during an interrogation is presumed inadmissible unless the entire interrogation is electronically recorded. The presumption of inadmissibility may be overcome by a preponderance of the evidence that the statement was voluntarily given and reliable. Effective: 2009.

Read the statute.

Post Conviction DNA Testing

During or after a term of incarceration, any convicted felon may petition the court that entered the judgment of conviction for DNA testing. Effective: 2003, Amended most recently: 2015.

Read the statute.

Evidence Preservation

State statute requires law enforcement to automatically preserve biological material obtained in connection with a felony conviction. The evidence must be preserved for a minimum of 3 years after the conviction in the case becomes final, or for any period beyond the 3 years that is required by a court order issued within 3 years after the conviction in the case becomes final. Effective: 2003. Amended most recently: 2009.

Montana's statute does NOT meet the best practices standards outlined by the NIST Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation.

Read the statute.

Exoneree Compensation

State statute provides exonerees with $60,000/yr of wrongful imprisonment, and $25,000/yr for additional years served on parole and/or registered as a sex offender stemming from the wrongful conviction, whichever amount of time is greater. An exoneree may also apply for a $5,000 grant to help with filing for compensation and may be awarded up to $25,000 in attorney or other fees incurred in bringing forward their compensation claim. Exonerees are also eligible to receive non-monetary services including two years of tuition assistance for a state university or college, one year of state-funded medical insurance, and housing assistance while the case is pending. The court is required to provide exonerees with a certificate of innocence and expunge all records related to the wrongful conviction. Effective: 2003; Amended most recently: 2021.

Read the statute.

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