(1) Before or during trial, a plea of guilty must be accepted, and a plea of nolo
contendere may be accepted with the consent of the court and the prosecutor, when:
(a) subject to the provisions of subsection (3), the defendant enters a plea of guilty
or nolo contendere in open court; and
(b) the court has informed the defendant of the consequences of the plea and of the
maximum penalty provided by law that may be imposed upon acceptance of the plea.
(2)(a) Subject to subsection (2)(b), a plea of guilty or nolo contendere in a justice's
court, city court, or other court of limited jurisdiction waives the right of trial
de novo in district court. A defendant must be informed of the waiver before the plea is accepted, and the
justice or judge shall question the defendant to ensure that the plea and waiver are
(b) A defendant who claims that a plea of guilty or nolo contendere was not entered
voluntarily may move to withdraw the plea. If the motion to withdraw is denied, the defendant may, within 90 days of the denial
of the motion, appeal the denial of a motion to withdraw the plea to district court. The district court may order the office of state public defender, provided for in
2-15-1029, to assign counsel pursuant to the Montana Public Defender Act, Title 47, chapter
1, hold a hearing, and enter appropriate findings of fact, conclusions of law, and
a decision affirming or reversing the denial of the defendant's motion to withdraw
the plea by the court of limited jurisdiction. The district court may remand the case. The defendant may not appeal the decision of the district court.
(3) For purposes of this section, in cases in which the defendant is charged with
a misdemeanor offense, an entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere through the
use of two-way electronic audio-video communication, allowing all of the participants
to be observed and heard in the courtroom by all present, is considered to be an entry
of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere in open court. Audio-video communication may be used if neither party objects and the court agrees
to its use. The audio-video communication must operate as provided in 46-12-201.
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