An Idaho Attorney’s Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


As a criminal attorney in Boise, Idaho, I frequently get asked the same questions on a regular basis.  I have taken those questions and answered them in various places on my website, either as a page or a blog entry. I keep a running tally of those questions and a link to the answers on this page. I have also included a summary of questions I answer on at the bottom of this page. Come back frequently to read my latest answers.

What to do after I have been charged with a crime?
It can be possible for things to quickly get worse when we try to talk ourselves out of trouble with the police. Don’t fall into that trap. Our attorneys are committed to making sure that your rights are protected, and are ready to start establishing a strong case in your defense. Call our offices today to discuss your case with one of our lawyers who specialize in Boise criminal defense (208)571-0627. If you have been arrested, we suggest four key things to do from remaining silent to what to tell your attorney. Read more to find out what to do after you have been arrested.

What are the steps of a DUI Case?
Have you been charged with Driving While Under the Influence in Idaho? Getting a DUI charge can be a very scary and confusing experience. If you are in this situation, you are looking for a Boise DUI Attorney who can help you avoid tragedy. Many of our clients are searching for an attorney who is professional, competent and experienced, and have often spoken with other lawyers who turn out to be better salesmen than they are attorneys. Don’t let that happen to you too. Call our offices today (208)571-0627, to talk about how our experienced Boise DUI lawyers can help minimize the impact of a DUI charge to your life and freedom. To find out what to expect as you go through the DUI conviction process, click here.

What are the steps of a Felony Case?
Being charged with a crime is a scary thing. The unknown factors are the most unsettling to those facing felony convictions. In order to quell some of those fears, I’ve written this article about how a felony case proceeds through court. I know that this will not relieve you of all fear, however, I hope by giving you a guide, it will empower you to make the best decisions for your case. Read more here to find out what to expect as you move through the felony conviction process.

What are the steps of a Misdemeanor Probation Violation case?
You will learn that something is coming down the pipeline when you go in for your monthly visit with your PO, and he looks unhappier than usual. The PO tells you that you failed a drug or alcohol test, or haven’t been keeping up on your fines or costs of supervision, or picked up a new criminal charge. Whatever the news may be, it is bad news. Check out these seven steps for what to expect if you have been charged with a misdemeanor Probation Violation.

How long does the State have to file criminal charges?
The time period that the Statute of Limitations runs is usually measured from the day of the commission of the alleged offense to the day criminal charges were filed. In the event that the State fails to charge the crime within the time given by the Statute of Limitations, the State will be forced to dismiss the case. Evidence, whether testimonial or physical, can sometimes disappear or erode as time goes by. To ensure the best use of all case evidence, the Statute of Limitations is in place to limit how long the State has to file a criminal charge, and in Idaho there is a statute for felonies, and a statute for misdemeanors. For specific information about Statute of Limitations in Idaho, click here.

What is a plea agreement?
What the prosecutor is frequently willing to do is work out a plea deal with the defendant and the defendant’s criminal defense attorney. For those of you not familiar with what a plea deal is, read on.

What is a ‘Rule 11’ plea agreement?
If you’ve spent any time hanging around a courthouse in Idaho you will probably have heard the term “rule 11” thrown around. This raises the question for those with criminal charges, what is a rule 11? Rule 11 is a rule of the Idaho Criminal Rules of Procedure. Rule 11 lays out the procedures and rules for plea agreements and guilty pleas in criminal cases. Read more about the other ways Rule 11 can come into play with your case.

Who can dismiss a criminal charge?
Whether a defendant is guilty or innocent of a criminal charge, it goes without saying that every defendant wants the criminal charge dismissed. So how do you go about getting a criminal charge dismissed? Well the strategy for getting dismissed by the court will vary depending on the type of case and the circumstances surrounding the case. The process of getting the case dismissed can be done in one of three ways, read more.

Should I speak to the police? (also here)
You really should never speak to the police if you are being accused of a crime, especially without a lawyer present. Watch the video because I go through all the reasons why you should never speak to the police, and how it could really hurt someone’s case who has been accused of a crime. For more information, click here.

Should I plead guilty or not guilty?
Pleading to a crime is not something that should be taken lightly. Your life, freedom and reputation are on the line. So should you plead ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’? A common myth among those not familiar with the system is if you immediately plead guilty the judge will take it easy on you. While it is true that one of the factors at sentencing is whether you take responsibility and accountability for your actions, that is not the only factor in the sentencing of a criminal case. Guilty or not, you should read more here.

What happens to a witness who fails to appear for court?
What will happen to a witness (or alleged victim) if the witness fails to show up for court? It is most commonly a wife or girlfriend of a defendant in a domestic violence case that asks this question. I suspect they are asking this because they hope that their absence from the court will result in a dismissal of the case, but that’s not always the outcome. Find out what to do if your witness doesn’t show up for court here.

What does it mean for someone to be sentenced to a ‘rider’?
In Idaho when a criminal defendant is sentenced for a conviction of a felony charge, the judge traditionally has two options. Send the criminal defendant to prison by placing the defendant in the custody of the Idaho Department of Corrections, or place the defendant on a period of probation. If the defendant is successful during the period of probation he can avoid the prison sentence. The courts in Idaho have developed a third sentencing option when sentencing felonies, and that option is sentencing them to a “Rider.” Read more about a ‘rider’ sentencing here.

Can I plead ‘no contest’ in Idaho?
Sometimes defendants want to plead guilty and take advantage of an offer by the prosecution, even though they honestly feel that they are not guilty.  This usually happens in cases where the prosecution offers a particularly favorable plea settlement, and the defendant believes there is a strong likelihood of being convicted at a jury trial. In some States the defendant has the option of pleading “no contest”. Find out what happens in Idaho when pleading ‘no contest’ here.

Why is the State still pressing charges when the victim dropped the charges?
Clients often call me and tell me the complaining witness (also known as the “alleged victim”) is not “pressing charges”, and want to know why they are still being charged. The myth that an alleged victim can “drop the charges” probably stems from too many crime dramas. In Idaho, it is not the “victim” that files the charges, consequently, it is not the “victim” that “drops the charges.” Find out what to expect when charges are dropped on your case here.

How do I bail out of jail in Idaho?
So what does it mean when a warrant is issued for your arrest in Idaho? It means that a county judge has ordered law enforcement to arrest you, place you in the custody of the county jail, and then bring you to court to appear before the court. So that would naturally lead one to ask, do I have to stay in jail the whole time the case is pending? Find out how to get bailed out of jail here.

What is a Rule 35 motion? Will it cut my sentence in half?
Idaho Criminal Rule 35 has reached almost mythical status among those in custody in the jails and prisons of Idaho. Each week I get at least one phone call from either an inmate, or a friend or family member of an inmate, asking about Idaho Criminal Rule 35. The myth about rule 35 that I hear most frequently is that filing a rule 35 will automatically cut a defendant’s sentence in half! Of course this is a fantasy, and no such rule exists that will cut your sentence in half. Idaho Criminal Rule 35 is a statute that governs the correcting and reducing of sentences handed down by judges in misdemeanor and felony criminal cases in Idaho. Find out more here.

Why should I hire a criminal defense attorney?
So you messed up, you know you messed up, so why would you need a criminal defense attorney? You only hire a criminal defense attorney if you are trying to get the case dismissed, right? Wrong! As a criminal defense attorney practicing in Boise, Idaho, I hear prospective clients ask me, “Well I know I am guilty, why do I need a criminal lawyer?” This is like asking your doctor, “Well I know I am sick, why do I need a doctor?” Judges understand that defendants have a right to an attorney, and also expect that attorney to review all available evidence and law before advising a client. Pleading guilty without representation can be a mistake for two reasons. Surely more than two, but there are two reasons I will address here.

Should I take my criminal case to trial?
When your reputation, character and freedom are on the line, nothing will occupy your mind more than the question of whether you should take your criminal case to a Jury Trial. In order to help guide you in your decision, I’ve outlined some points that you should consider when making this decision, read more.

What shouldn’t I do once I’ve been accused of a crime?
Although I believe the system can be unfair, defendant’s do not do themselves any favors in ensuring they get a fair shake. One thing is for sure, a defendant without guidance, whether guilty or innocent, can really make a mess of his case. And if you are a defendant accused of domestic violence, or any other crime, I hope this advice will keep you from digging yourself a deeper hole. You’ve been accused of a crime, what do you do? Find out now.

What is a withheld judgment? (deferred judgment)
In order to answer this inquiry you must first understand what goes on your record in Idaho when you are charged with a crime. What this means is if someone searched the Idaho Repository they would see that you had been accused of a crime, and would also see that you were arrested (if you were in fact arrested). As you proceed through your case, your record will continually be updated, and those updates will all be part of public record. Anyone who knows how to use the Idaho Repository can get online, do a search of your name, and see that you have an entry. Read more to find out what it means when your record shows a withheld or deferred judgement.

When can a police officer frisk somebody?
Frisking is a technique frequently used by the police of running his or her hands up and down the suspect’s outer clothing to detect weapons or other contraband. As can reasonably be expected, the guilty and the innocent are not comfortable with a stranger feeling up and down their body, to say the least. So when is a police officer lawfully justified in doing so? Read more here to find out the rules of being frisked by Idaho law enforcement.

When can a police officer stop someone in their car?
Can a police officer stop whomever he wants to stop? I know it may seem like they can at times, but the answer is no, a police officer can not stop you for just any reason. The general rule is that if a police officer wants to stop your vehicle, or in legal terms seize you and your vehicle, they need to have reasonable articulable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot. Sometimes you will hear the reasonable articulable suspicion standard shortened to just reasonable suspicion, usually it is a law enforcement officer who shortens the term. All three words are very important though. Read more about when police can legally stop someone in a vehicle in Boise, Idaho.

When can a police officer search my car?
As a criminal defense attorney in Boise, Idaho, this is the question that comes up the most often, and it comes up the most often because it happens so frequently. This frequency is due to the fact that exceptions have been so broadly interpreted by the courts that police can search your car without a warrant under almost any circumstance. For more info on exceptions to the warrant requirement, read here.

 What does ‘discovery’ mean in a criminal case?
Attorneys frequently use uncommon terminology, which leaves non-attorneys scratching their heads. The term “discovery” is one of those words that attorneys use all the time as if the rest of the world is supposed to understand what they are talking about. Discovery is what attorneys do in the pretrial phase of all legal cases, including criminal cases. There are rules laid out in the law that direct attorneys in their investigation of the case. The defense can make general and specific discovery requests for evidence that the prosecution may (or may not) have. The prosecution can either comply with the request, or lodge a formal objection with the court to the request. Read more about what ‘discovery’ means in Boise criminal cases here.

Should I blow into a DUI breathalyzer?
The State has two ways of proving a DUI charge. The first and most common way is to prove that a defendant was driving a vehicle while his blood, breath or urine contained .08 alcohol or higher. The second way of proving a DUI is by proving that you are too intoxicated to drive properly. This takes a little more effort on the State’s part. So what if you refuse to submit to the alcohol test?  Find out here.

What happens to my license after I get charged with a DUI?
You may lose your license for a year if you refuse an evidentiary test, but you may also avoid a dui conviction if the State of Idaho cannot use the evidence in a DUI trial. On the other hand a maximum license suspension for a DUI is 180 days. Find out more about what to expect after a DUI charge in Boise, Idaho.