- Juvenile Defense and Court Process — Attorneys Must Meet with Youth Prior to Detention Hearings and Prior to Youth’s Waiver of Counsel: The Montana Legislature revised the Youth Court Act to require a youth to be represented by an attorney at a detention hearing, unless the youth waives his or her right to an attorney after consulting with an attorney prior to the hearing. If the youth is under 16, the youth and parent/guardian can waive counsel only after consulting with an attorney prior to the hearing. S.B. 91/Ch. 37, signed into law March 20, 2009; effective October 1, 2009.
- Interrogations and Confessions — Law Requires Electronic Recording of Custodial Interrogations of Youth Charged with Felonies: The Montana Legislature now requires electronic recording of custodial interrogations in juvenile cases involving an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult. The law states several purposes for the requirement, including to provide the best evidence of the communications that occurred during an interrogation and prevent disputes about a police officer’s conduct or treatment of a suspect during the course of an interrogation. Statements made during interrogations that do not conform to the requirements of the law may be admitted in court if the prosecutor proves by a preponderance of the evidence that certain limited exceptions apply. H.B. 534/Ch. 214, signed into law April 15, 2009; effective October 1, 2009.