Strangest Laws in Montana

The first Montana Constitution was drafted during the 1866 six-day Constitutional Convention in the city of Helena. However, the document was lost on the way to the printers and so was never subject to a vote. 

This would not be the first time the state’s constitution would be the subject of controversy. Over the years, lawmakers in the state have managed to enact some pretty wacky laws that would leave you wondering about the situation or event which led to their enactment. For instance, It is illegal to bring a grenade, bomb, rocket or other large-caliber weapon to a council meeting in the city of Billings.

We’ve compiled a list of eight strange laws from Montana and the various county jurisdictions within the state.

1. Don’t play ‘folf’ at night

The game of ‘folf’ or frisbee golf is played following the same rules as golf, but using specialized frisbees or “folf discs” instead of clubs and balls. Apparently, the sport is quite popular in Montana and the municipal authorities in Helena stepped in to control where and when the game is played through an edict that states “No person shall play or engage in the game of folf or throw a golf disc at nighttime in any area within the business improvement district that has not been sanctioned as a designated folf course by the city.”

2. Don’t carry large-caliber weapons to council proceedings

The city of Billings in Yellowstone County has banned the carrying of concealed or unconcealed weapons and rockets to city council proceedings. These include anything from a small, Ruger LCP handgun to an XM307 belt-fed, automatic grenade launcher.

3. Raising rats is prohibited

Still in the city of Billings, nobody is allowed to harbor, raise, sell or offer rats as pets, toys, premiums, novelties, or for any other purpose except as feed for reptiles or birds of prey or both. This law does not extend to rats that are kept for scientific research.

4. Pool tables must be visible from the street outside a billiard hall where they are located

According to municipal code from the city of Kalispell, it is illegal for “any person or the employee of any person owning or conducting any place of business wherein is kept any pool table, billiard table or bagatelle table to place in front of the room or across the inside of the room, any screen, blind, curtain or any obstruction that would prohibit the view of such pool table, billiard table or bagatelle table from the street in front of such room or place of business wherein is kept any of the tables above described.”

When starting a business in Montana, you need to understand the rules that the state imposes on businesses. Perhaps these guides on how to start an LLC in Montana and how to find a great registered agent in Montana can help you avoid any legal issues when opening or doing business in the state.

5. Pretending to kill an animal in front of a minor is illegal

According to Montana Code section 45-5-627, “A person commits the offense of ritual abuse of a minor if the person purposely or knowingly and as part of any ceremony, rite, or ritual or of any training or practice for any ceremony, rite, or ritual: 

(b) actually or by simulation tortures, mutilates, or sacrifices an animal or person in the presence of the minor.”

Any person who is found guilty of this crime shall be imprisoned in the state prison for a term of not less than 2 years or more than 20 years and may be fined not more than $50,000, or both.

6. It was legal to shoot at Indians

Back in the day, when the Westward Expansion had started to make an impact in the Montana territory, Indians and European settlers fought for land and other resources and things got so bad that at one point if a group of seven or more Indians were sighted, they were considered a raiding party and it was legal to shoot them. This law would later be repealed.

7. Prostitution is considered a crime against the family

Prostitution in Montana is categorized under Chapter 5 part 6 of the Constitution as a ‘Crime against the family’. A prostitute convicted of prostitution shall be fined an amount not exceeding $500 or be imprisoned in the county jail for a term not exceeding six months, or both. 

Her client shall for the first offense be fined an amount not exceeding $1,000 or be imprisoned for a term not exceeding one year, or both, and for a second or subsequent offense shall be fined an amount not exceeding $10,000 or be imprisoned for a term not exceeding five years, or both.

8. Don’t annoy passers-by with your lawn sprinkler

In Helena it is illegal for any person to place any revolving fountain, hose or lawn sprinkler so that the water from the same shall be thrown upon any street or sidewalk to the annoyance of passers-by.

Sources

Code Library

MuniCode – Billings: Sec. 4-304. – Raising rats.

MuniCode – Billings: Sec. 18-204. – Prohibiting weapons, firearms and explosives at city council proceedings.

Legal Juice

QCode

Montana Code Annotated 2019 Part 6: Offenses against the family

2005 Montana Code Annotated: – 45-5-601 — Prostitution

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