Idaho Falls Criminal Defense Attorney
What Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Do?
In the criminal justice system, there are two types of criminal defense attorneys, public defenders and privately retained criminal defense attorneys. Public defenders are appointed to represent you and are paid by the government. Unfortunately you do not get to pick your public defender. Alternatively, you can research the best criminal defense attorney for your case and hire them. Your criminal defense attorney will meet with you and gather all the necessary facts about your case by asking questions and reviewing the evidence.
Your criminal defense attorney will investigate the case in a comprehensive manner in order to determine if there is a chance of an acquittal, or, in the alternative, how to build a strong defense on your behalf in order to mitigate your penalties as much as possible. Criminal defense attorneys have the right to review all the prosecutor’s evidence and find our own evidence, before a case is taken to jury trial. This allows your attorney to determine whether there are defenses or holes in the case against you and how best to defend your case.
If no plea deal can be negotiated prior to the trial, then your case will go to trial where a jury will be selected. During the trial, your criminal defense attorney will fight for you every step of the way by examining witnesses, cross-examining the state’s witnesses, and working present your case of innocent and convince the jury that the prosecutor is wrong and has not met the burden of proof. If you are convicted of the crime, your attorney will fight for a lesser sentence and file an appeal when applicable. You would never want to try and handle criminal charges on your own, as your future is at stake.
Criminal Defense Facts and Statistics
According to the Idaho Statewide Crime Profile, there were 4,334 total violent crimes reported in 2021. This translates into one murder in the state every 9.4 days, one aggravated assault every 2.9 hours, one kidnapping every 1.6 days, one burglary every 2.9 hours, one sexual assault every 5.8 hours, and one rape every 12 hours. Aggravated assault is, by far, the most common violent crime committed in Idaho, making up 70.88 percent of all violent crimes in the state. Rape is the second-most common violent crime in the state, making up 16.80 percent of all violent crimes in the state.
Overview of Criminal Defense Practice Areas for Cutler Law Office, P.A.
- Assault and Battery—While assault may not include actual physical harm, but rather encompasses threats of harm or minor harm, battery involves unlawful touching, striking, or causing harm to another person. Assault is a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 3 months in jail and a fine as large as $1,000. Battery is also a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine as large as $1000. Aggravated Assault is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. Aggravated Battery is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
- Domestic Battery—Domestic Battery usually involves the unlawful touching or striking of another who is a spouse, x-spouse, or a person with whom you have child in common or cohabitate with. If there is no injury the offense will be a misdemeanor which can be punished by up to six months in jail. If a traumatic injury occurs, however slight, the Domestic Battery will be charged as a felony and can be punished by up to a $5000.00 Fine and up to five years in prison. If a child witnesses the Domestic Battery, the punishments can be doubled.
- Drug Crimes can result in very serious penalties which will be dependent on whether you possessed personal use amounts of the drug or have distribution quantities and are involved in selling drugs. Further, the type of drug you possess or sale factors into the punishment. Crimes like trafficking carry mandatory minimum prison sentences.
- DUI crimes can result in your being sentenced to jail, steep fines, and the loss of your driver’s license. Collateral damages can continue far after you have served your criminal penalties; your insurance rates may be so high as to be unaffordable, you may have to have an ignition interlock device (“blow and go”) installed in every vehicle you drive at your own expense, and you may find it difficult to secure employment.
- Federal Crimes typically have much harsher penalties than state crimes. Any crime that occurs on federal property may be charged federally, along with some drug offenses, certain sex crimes, any crime that involves crossing a state line, computer crimes, weapons offenses, money laundering, bank crimes, and other white-collar crimes.
- Theft Crimes—Theft crimes can range from shoplifting, which usually qualifies as petty theft, or theft of an item worth less than $1000, to grand theft, which includes items valued at $1000 or more, along with theft of livestock, and extortion. Petty theft is a misdemeanor, while grand theft is a felony.
- Violent Crimes are usually felonies, resulting in serious prison time, life in prison, or even the death penalty for certain homicides. . Violent crimes include murder, manslaughter, rape, sexual assault, arson, burglary, robbery, and aggravated assault.
What Types of Sentences Are Given for Criminal Offenses?
In every criminal sentencing, the Judge will give an underlying sentence and then decide if they will have you serve the sentence or suspend the sentence and place you on probation with terms and conditions to complete. In a felony sentence, the judge has another option in between prison and probation. The judge can retain jurisdiction of the case but send you to the Idaho Department of Corrections for up to a year for classes and evaluation. This is commonly referred to as a Rider.
Underlying Sentence – In a felony sentencing, the underlying sentence will usually consist of a fixed term of prison that must be served followed by an indeterminate term that may be served. If you are sentenced to a term of two years fixed followed by an indeterminate term of five years for a total of seven years, it means that if the judge sends you to serve your time you must serve two years in prison. At the end of the two years served the Idaho Department of Corrections (IDOC) will determine how much if any of the indeterminate term you will serve. This will depend on various factors of how you did and behaved in prison. If you are released from prison at the end of the fixed term, you will serve the indeterminate term of your sentence on parole and will be supervised by a parole officer. If you violate parole, you will be sent back to prison to finish the rest of your indeterminate term unless you are given another chance at parole. If you serve the full fixed and determinate time in prison, you have then topped out your time and are finished with your sentence. It is important to note that if the judge sends you to prison, the judge releases his jurisdiction, and decisions are made by the Idaho Bureau of Corrections, not the judge.
Probation – If the judge suspends your underlying sentence and places you on probation you will not serve any of your prison sentence as long as you obey and complete the terms and requirements of your probation. If you violate your probation, the judge could release his jurisdiction and send you to prison to serve your underlying sentence. It is important to note that while you are on probation and living in the community, you do not necessarily have all the rights and constitutional rights of a free citizen. Most commonly you will have waived your right to be free from searches and seizures. A probation officer could search your residence and person without a warrant. They could also require you to be on a curfew, take random drug tests or they could order you not to go to certain places, etc. As a convicted felon you will have lost your right to vote and possess a firearm. You will most likely be required to check in with the probation officer at least monthly and report on your progress in completing the terms of your probation which could include the taking of classes, making your fine and restitution payments, and other requirements. Also, you can be required to do some local county jail time as part of your sentence.
Retained Jurisdiction or Rider – If the judge retains jurisdiction and sends you to complete a program with the Idaho Department of Corrections (commonly called a Rider). This program will usually consist of classes to help you with thinking errors you may be making and treatment classes to help you with any addiction problems you may have or anger or sexual classes. You may also be required to do work while on the Rider. While at the Rider program you will also be evaluated by the teachers, counselors, and staff. At the end of the Rider, the staff will prepare a report to the judge which outlines how you did in your classes and programing and will make a recommendation of whether the judge should let you out on probation or send you back to IDOC to complete your underlying sentence. You will be returned to the judge, and they will decide whether to put you on probation or send you to prison to do your time.
Misdemeanor Sentencing – Misdemeanor sentence does not have the Rider option. The judge will give an underlying sentence and either have you serve the sentence or place you on probation. It should be noted that the judge can still have you do some of the jail time as part of probation.
Withheld Judgments – It is important to note that on a misdemeanor or felony sentence, a judge can also grant a Withheld Judgment. If this is done, the judge will place you on probation and if you successfully complete the terms of the probation and have no violations, upon motion to the judge, your guilty plea will be withdrawn, a not-guilty plea entered and your case will be dismissed. From that point on you can say that case was dismissed. (Note this does not erase the case so no one can see it, it merely changes the disposition to dismissed). It is important to note that you only get one Withheld Judgment in your life, and it is up to the judge as to whether they will grant it or not. Also, if a Withheld Judgment is not granted, under certain circumstances, a similar relief can be granted pursuant to Idaho Code § 19-2604.
What Does a Judge Consider When Sentencing?
In determining a sentence, the judge needs to consider the factors listed in Idaho Code § 19-2601 in Idaho State Courts and 18 U.S.C. §3553 in Federal Court. The judge is charged with imposing a sentence that is sufficient, but not greater than necessary to promote respect for the law, provide just punishment, deter further criminal conduct, protect the public, and reflect the seriousness of the offense and rehabilitation of the person that committed the crime. A judge will usually take into consideration whether the defendant has a prior criminal history, whether the crime has a victim and the defendant’s current life. This can include whether you, the defendant, simply made a one-time mistake when you normally lead a law-abiding life. The prosecutor and the defendant’s attorney may make recommendations to the judge.
Criminal defense attorney John Cutler and the Cutler Law Office, P.A. take the sentencing hearing seriously and will spend time with you to find out the good qualities you have and the good things you have done. It is our goal to present our clients to the judge in a way that the judge sees them differently than a person that committed a crime. We want the Judge to understand who you are and the circumstances surrounding the crime that mitigate against a harsh sentence.
What Are the Different Types of Criminal Trials?
All defendants have the right to a jury trial on misdemeanor and felony offenses and in almost all cases you want to have a jury trial. However, in some unique fact situations you may, after thorough analysis, decide to waive your right to a jury trial and have a trial with the judge as the sole decider of the case (Bench Trial). In a jury trial, the judge’s role is to be the “judge of the law,” while the jury is the “judge of the facts.” In a bench trial, the judge serves both of these roles. In most cases, we want a jury trial, but a bench trial might be preferable when your case is built on very technical, legal matters—since jurors often “tune out” on issues they do not understand. Another time a bench trial might be preferable is if an extensive prior criminal history will be presented. A judge may be better equipped to ignore this inflammatory evidence. A judge may also be more likely than a juror to be able to separate the notion that you “might” have committed a crime from the fact that the prosecution has not met its legal burden of proof.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Criminal Defense Case?
In case you wonder whether you really need a criminal defense attorney for your case, the answer is a resounding “yes.” When you are charged with a criminal offense, you are always best served by obtaining an experienced criminal defense attorney. The practice of criminal law is simply not something you can learn quickly by reading a book or two. Further, prosecutorial discretion—the power of the prosecutor to determine whether charges should be filed, and which charges to file determines a lot of what happens in criminal courts. Your criminal defense lawyer will have a relationship with the prosecutors as well as the judges. This is a huge benefit to you and your case. Your criminal defense lawyer will:
- Prepare for a jury trial to prove your innocence or if necessary, negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor that involves reduced charges and lesser sentencing when possible
- Prepare for sentencing and tailor a sentencing argument to your specific needs
- Help you understand the judicial process
- Provide you with a knowledgeable, objective perspective on your situation, giving you a good idea of what you are facing
- Be familiar with legal rules that you would probably find impossible to locate on your own
- Understand the potential costs of pleading guilty
- Spend time on your case that you may not have to spare
- Gather all necessary information from prosecution witnesses
- Hire and manage investigators
Your attorney will also be familiar with local court customs and procedures that are not written down anywhere. As an example, your criminal defense attorney will know the type of argument likely to appeal to a specific prosecutor or judge.
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney from Cutler Law Office, P.A. Help?
Attorney John Cutler was a prosecutor before he became a criminal defense attorney. This gives him a unique perspective on your case, as he knows how to present your case in the best light to prosecutors, judges, and juries. John will fight for you because he understands what’s at stake—your future. With over three decades of experience, John Cutler will zealously fight for you every step of the way, answering all your questions, and explaining the process.
If you have been charged with a crime in Idaho Falls (Bonneville County), Blackfoot (Bingham County), Rigby (Jefferson County), St. Anthony (Fremont County), Rexburg (Madison County), Driggs (Teton County), Arco (Butte County), Victor (Teton County), or Island Park (Fremont County), contact John Cutler today for superior legal representation. Attorney John Cutler practices primarily in the 7th Judicial District of Idaho and is ready to speak to you today. For the best outcome possible, contact Cutler Law Office, P.A. today.