Crime in Idaho touches all. When one person hurts, we all, as a state, suffer. It is the job of the criminal justice system to protect, support, and serve our communities. Most citizens do not learn about the criminal justice system until they become victims of crime–the worst possible time to try to understand the complex roles and responsibilities of each of the “players” in the system.
The public has gained a better understanding of the impact of crime on victims. As a result of assertive advocacy, crime victims have gained many rights within our criminal justice system. As a crime victim, this web page will help you to learn about your rights.
Constitutional Amendment Passes
In 1994, Idaho voters added Rights for Crime Victims to the Idaho Constitution. Idaho law also provides victims certain rights.
Which Criminal Offenses Equip Victims with Rights?
Any charged felony or misdemeanor involving physical injury or threat of physical injury, sexual assault offenses, and juvenile offenses involving acts that would be considered felonies if committed by adults.
Who is a Victim of Crime?
Any individual who suffers direct or threatened physical, financial, or emotional harm as a result of a crime or juvenile offense. Rights apply to the immediate families of homicide victims or victims that are unable to exercise these rights, such as children. The court may designate someone from the family to exercise these rights.
When do Victims’ Rights Begin?
When a criminal complaint or juvenile petition is filed by the prosecuting attorney. This is when a case is filed with the court (charged), NOT when a statement is given to the officer. To exercise your rights as a victim, you must make a written request to the District Court on a form provided by the prosecuting attorney.
Who is the Prosecuting Attorney?
The elected or appointed official who represents the interests of the people of the State of Idaho for the county or city where they work. Under Idaho’s Constitution, they must choose which cases to prosecute or charge.
What are Some of My Rights?
The law provides that crime victims shall be
- treated fairly–treated with fairness, respect, dignity, and privacy throughout the criminal justice process.
- involved in court–allowed to attend all court proceedings in the case (you are responsible for your own expenses).
- considered concerning timeliness–entitled to a timely disposition of the case.
- notified–given prior notice of trial, appellate and parole proceedings, and provided, upon request, information about the sentence, incarceration, or release of the defendant.
- heard–heard, upon request, by a court that is considering a plea of guilty, at sentencing, incarceration, or release of the defendant (unless manifest injustice would result).
- involved in plea bargains–afforded the opportunity to communicate with the prosecution in criminal or juvenile offenses and be advised of any proposed plea agreement before it has been made.
- not harassed–allowed to refuse an interview, contact, or other request by the defendant or any other person acting on his/her behalf, unless such contact is mandated by the court.
- involved in sentencing–consulted by the presentence investigator during the preparation of the presentence report and have included in that report a statement of the impact which the defendant’s criminal conduct had upon the victim; allowed to read, prior to the sentencing hearing, the presentence report relating to the crime. (The victim shall maintain the confidentiality of the presentence report.)
- property returned–assured the speedy return by law enforcement agencies of any stolen or other personal property when no longer needed as evidence.
- notified of defendant’s release–notified whenever the defendant or suspect is released or escapes from custody. The law specifies that the law enforcement agency from whose custody the defendant is released or escapes shall make the notification.
Victims are responsible for keeping the court informed of their address for the purpose of notification. You MUST inform the District Court Clerk whenever you move or change phone numbers. The Clerk is required to keep this information confidential.
There is Help!
If you are a victim of a violent crime, possible payment of medical bills, lost wages, counseling, funeral bills, and more is available through Idaho’s Crime Victims’ Compensation Program 1-800-950-2110.
In addition to this basic help, if you are a victim of rape, the law requires the referring law enforcement agency to pay hospital costs of evidence collection for rape victims.
If you are a victim of domestic violence and if there is a threat of further violence by a family or household member, you may file for a civil protection order at your county courthouse. They are issued on an emergency basis. There is no charge for this service.
There are two types of charges: misdemeanor and felony. A misdemeanor crime is tried in Magistrate Court and the sentence may be given at the arraignment (without involvement of the prosecuting attorney) or when the defendant is found guilty. Felonies must be tried in District Court.
Sentencing in Idaho varies with the crime and can be the most confusing part of the criminal process. Most often, sentences are at the judge’s discretion. Misdemeanor offenses carry a maximum sentence of one year in the county jail. Persons convicted of a felony may be sentenced to probation, county jail, evaluation, or the Idaho State Penitentiary.
Your statement at sentencing is important!!! If you do not stand up for your rights at sentencing, no one else may!