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Criminal Law in Idaho

If you have been arrested for an Idaho crime, your future, finances, family, and freedom are all at stake. And,this article was written for you.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Search our site,, for an Idaho criminal defense attorney or get referrals from the bar association or loved ones.
  • Ask questions before hiring a defense lawyer. Select the attorney with whom you are most comfortable.

Here’s what we’ll do for you. We’ll explain in laymen’s terms:

  • Idaho criminal laws, in general;
  • What you need to know about criminal defense in Idaho; and
  • How to work with your Idaho criminal defense attorney.

Idaho Criminal Laws

Actions or inactions that are thought to cause harm are criminalized in an attempt to prevent harm.

If you’d like to look up the crime you’ve been charged with, you can find it in Idaho Crimes and Punishments – Idaho Code(Title 18).

There are many crimes listed in Title 18. Here are some examples: gaming violations, homicide, criminal attempt, false imprisonment, arson, computer offenses, drug offenses, robbery, DUI, conspiracy, disorderly conduct, burglary, robbery, weapons violations, rioting, traffic violations, and sex crimes.

If you’re not sure of the crime you’ve been charged with, ask your attorney. Many crimes have similar names, but different levels of seriousness.

Statute of Limitations
Many crimes have a time limit; although, the most serious crimes may not. This means that most criminal charges must be brought within a certain period of time or be forever barred. If the statute of limitations has passed, you cannot be charged or punished.

For example, in Idaho, the statute of limitations for:

  • Both Burglary and Robbery is 5 years (Idaho Code В§ 19-402).
  • Disorderly Conduct is 1 year (Idaho Code В§ 19-403(1)).
  • Murder is unlimited. There is no time limit on bringing charges (Idaho Code В§ 19-401(1)).

Your criminal defense lawyer will explain the statute of limitation in your specific case.

The punishment for each crime is listed with the crime in Title 18 of the Idaho Code. Your Idaho defense attorney will be able to explain the potential punishments and sentencing range for the crime you’re accused of.

Excepting minor offenses, Idaho judges have full discretion in determining criminal sentences.

  • For example, if an individual is convicted of child murder, first-degree kidnapping, or first-degree murder, the judge determines whether that person is punished by life in prison or death.
  • Richard “Rick” Leavitt was put to death June 12, 2012. He claimed he was innocent, but was convicted of stabbing a woman to death.

Other more common punishments include probation, community service, educational programs, fines, restitution, jail, suspension of driving privileges, house arrest, and drug counseling.

What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense

  • Even innocent people need criminal defense attorneys.
  • Do not delay in hiring a defense lawyer. Your interests must be protected and evidence must be preserved. It’s okay to call anytime of the day or night. Most criminal defense attorneys offer free consultations.
  • Honesty really is the best policy. Be completely honest and open with your defense attorney. Tell your attorney everything, even if it makes you look bad.
  • If you are not allowed to leave, you are under arrest. Ask for an attorney and don’t discuss the crime.

How to Work with an Idaho Criminal Defense Lawyer

Your attorney is your strongest advocate. Everything your attorney does is to help you. It’s imperative that you work with, not against, your own lawyer and do you share of the work.

You must:

  • Have confidence in your lawyer. Heed all advice.
  • Tell your criminal defense lawyer exactly what happened.
  • Return phone calls promptly.
  • Provide requested information promptly.
  • Stay in contact with your attorney.
  • Update your address and phone number with your attorney’s office if either changes.
  • Answer your lawyer’s questions in full. Questions and even confrontation are part of the investigation and strategic defense development.
  • Play nice and be okay with your attorney being nice to professionals on the other side of the table. Being polite is a matter of professionalism and common sense. You get more of what you want if you’re nice.

Qualified Idaho criminal defense attorneys know criminal law and criminal procedure, understand the charges against you, and know how to put forward your best defenses. If you or a loved one has been arrested, you need an Idaho criminal defense lawyer immediately; and, your next step is to call a lawyer now.

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