Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Boise Criminal Lawyers - What Happens When You Are Charged With a Crime in Idaho?

As a Boise Criminal Lawyer I regularly get anxious calls from individuals who have been charged with a crime in Idaho.  Not only are they looking for a criminal defense attorney, but in general they are very concerned about what is going to happen next.  What happens next depends upon a couple of factors such as if the crime was a felony or a misdemeanor and if you were released on bond or if you are being held in jail.

Bond Hearing or How Bond is Set and How Do I Know When to Show Up in Court?
If you are arrested and released on bond, the court will send you a summons.  This summons will tell you where and when you need to show up.  If you were not released from jail you will be held at least until your arraignment.  After your arraignment you can request a bond hearing.  At the bond hearing the judge will look at several factors to determine if you qualify for bond and what dollar amount the bond should be.  The judge will look at your employment situation, family relationships, ties to the community, the nature of your crime and if you have committed a crime before.  Sometimes you will be released on your own recognizance, meaning you have sufficient credibility to be trusted to come back and the crime was not extremely serious.  If you are charged with a crime that is punishable by death, you will not qualify for bond.

An arraignment is a formal charging of a felony charge.  You will go before the court and the judge will read the charges against you.  This is not your time for trial.  The judge will determine if you are eligible for a public defender, a criminal lawyer provided by the state.  The judge will also ask you to make an initial plea of guilty or not guilty.  You should never make a plea without the advice of a criminal lawyer because it is very important that you are fully informed before you say you are guilty.  Because criminal law is based upon your Constitutional Rights, you may not be found guilty of a crime, even if you committed it, if your rights are violated.

What’s Next?
This depends upon the nature of the crime.  If you were charged with a misdemeanor, you received a summons with a court date.  If you hire a criminal attorney, he or she will usually file a plea of not guilty.  This doesn’t ultimately mean that you won’t accept a plea arrangement, but this gives your criminal attorney time to see what evidence that state has against you and to determine if your constitutional rights were violated.  The court will set a trial date.  If by the time of trial, it is clear that the state has enough evidence to convict you, your attorney can work with the prosecuting attorney for a plea agreement.   At the trial date, you will change your plea of not guilty and submit the plea agreement to the judge for approval.  If the state does not have enough evidence to convict you, your case will go forward to trial.
If you have been charged with a felony, you will have the option of having a preliminary hearing.  Here, in the Magistrate Court, the state’s attorneys have to show that there is a likelihood that you committed the crime.  If they are able to show this you will be “bound” over to the District Court.   Once you reach this stage you and your attorney will either prepare for trial or your criminal lawyer will work with the prosecuting attorney for a plea agreement.

Important Considerations
In all criminal law matters in Idaho, there are important deadlines and time frames.  It is important to have an experienced Idaho Criminal Lawyer who knows what these are and how to deal with them.  The last thing you want to do when you are charged with a crime is unknowingly waive your rights because you missed a deadline or a time frame.

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