Crime in Idaho Touches Us 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 pamphlet will help you to learn about your rights.
Rights for Crime Victims
In 1994, Idaho voters added Rights for Crime Victims to the Idaho Constitution. The amendment can be found in article I, Section 22 of the Idaho Constitution. In addition, Idaho law was amended, Idaho Code §19-5306, to provide victims certain rights.
Which Criminal Offenses Equip Victims with Rights?
Any charged felony or misdemeanor involving physical injury or threat of physical injury, sexual offenses, and juvenile offenses that is a violation of law that brings a juvenile within the purview of title 20, chapter 5, Idaho Code and involved 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 who 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 an officer. To exercise your rights as a victim, you must make a written request to the District Court on the form which can be obtained from 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 in which they work. Under Idaho’s Constitution, they must choose which cases to prosecute or charge.
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 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.
What Are Some of My Rights?
The Idaho Code § 19-5306, statutory provisions provides that crime victims shall be:
- Treated Fairly
Treated with fairness, respect, dignity and privacy throughout the criminal justice process.
- Involved in Court
Permitted to be present at all criminal justice proceedings or juvenile proceedings including probation proceedings (you are responsible for your own expenses).
- Considered Concerning Timeliness
Entitled to a timely disposition of the case.
Given prior notification of trial court, appellate and parole proceedings and provided, upon request, information about the sentence, incarceration, placing on probation or release of the defendant.
Heard, upon request, at all criminal justice proceedings considering a plea of guilty, at sentencing, incarceration, placing on probation or release of the defendant unless manifest injustice would result.
- Involved in Plea Bargins
Afforded the opportunity to communicate with the prosecution in criminal or juvenile offenses, and be advised of any proposed plea agreement prior to entering into a plea agreement.
- Not Harassed
Allowed to refuse an interview, ex parte contact or other request by the defendant or any other person acting on his/her behalf, unless such request is authorized by law.
- Involved in Sentencing
Consulted by the presentence investigator during the preparation of the presentence report and have included in that report an impact statement in which the defendant’s criminal conduct had upon the victim. The victim shall be 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 expeditious return of any stolen or other personal property by law enforcement agencies when no longer needed as evidence.
- Notified of Defendant 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.