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If you're a first-time offender in Idaho charged with a criminal offense, it's easy to become unsettled when worrying about what the future has in store for you. However, if you arm yourself with knowledge about Idaho's criminal laws, you can face your trial and any penalties with more confidence in the possible outcomes.
Use LawInfo's criminal law articles to help educate yourself about Idaho's laws and how they affect your case. You can learn about the difference between misdemeanors and felonies, intoxicated driving charges and many other state-specific criminal law topics. You can also use LawInfo to connect with an Idaho criminal law attorney in Boise, Nampa, Meridian or elsewhere in the state.
When one person kills another in Idaho, it's called a homicide. However, not all homicides are classified or penalized similarly. The killer's intentions (or lack thereof) at the time of the homicide divide the criminal act into two classifications: murder and manslaughter.
Murder is more serious than a manslaughter offense and therefore carries harsher penalties. Homicide by murder is committed either with "malice aforethought"—which means that the killer purposefully intended for the victim to die—or through torture with the intention of causing pain unto death.
Manslaughter is an accidental killing in which the killer didn't intend for the victim to die. There are three types of manslaughter offenses:
Every state has its own system of classifying crimes which also identifies the statutory punishments for each classification. Idaho has two main classifications of criminal offenses: felonies and misdemeanors. Non-criminal offenses are called infractions, which only carry a fine of up to $300.
Felonies are the most serious criminal offenses and infractions are the least serious offenses. Any offenses that aren't defined as felonies or infractions are classified as misdemeanors. Unlike many states, Idaho doesn't subdivide felonies and misdemeanors into classes or degrees with penalties prescribed per class/degree. Instead, Idaho prescribes penalties per the individual offenses.
Misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year of imprisonment and felonies carry more than one year of imprisonment. The most serious felony offense, first-degree murder, is penalized by either life imprisonment or the death penalty.
The most severe penalty a criminal can receive in Idaho is capital punishment—or death by lethal injection or firing squad. Capital punishment is reserved for the most serious felony, first-degree murder, which is:
Capital punishment is not a guaranteed sentence for first-degree murder charges. First, the prosecution must file a notice of intent to seek the death penalty. After that, the court must find if the case contains any statutory aggravating circumstances that warrant the death penalty. The killer's mental capacity must also be evaluated.
Offenders are more likely to receive life imprisonment than capital punishment in Idaho. There have been only three executions in the state since the death penalty statute was revised in 1977.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified criminal defense lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local criminal defense attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.