Idaho Criminal Defense Lawyer
Finding yourself on the wrong side of the law can be a frightening experience, especially for the uninitiated. Things typically happen very quickly, and it is easy to say the wrong thing in a panic, and end up incriminating yourself or another person without meaning to.
The Magistrate Court
Once the arrest warrant has been served, the first court you will encounter is the Magistrates court, where you will undergo an arraignment – this must occur within 24 hours of the arrest. In this step, the allegations will be read by the court, as well as the rights of the defendant.
There are several rights which will be read:
During this step, the judge will need to consider bail, if this has not been set with the arrest warrant. Here, the court will consider the likelihood of you attending future court hearings, the risk posed to the community, your past record, any other allegations, and your personal
life and situation.
While in the magistrates court, you will also have the preliminary hearing – this may be upgraded to a grand jury if the prosecutor makes the case. Here, the magistrate judge will need to uncover substantial evidence that the defendant has committed a crime, and can
then send the case to the district court. The case can also go to district court if the defendant
chooses to waive the hearing.
Jury or Bench Trial
If the case has not been resolved, the next stage is a trial – here, the prosecutor must prove each element of the crime “beyond reasonable doubt”. During the trial, all rules of evidence must be followed, this includes what evidence will or will not be allowed – for the defendant, this means that the aim is to get as much of the state’s evidence thrown out as possible.
During the course of the trial, the defendant is permitted to subpoena their own witness, cross examine the state’s witnesses, and, in some cases, call expert witnesses if applicable. Any evidence bearing on the innocence of the accused will also be entered, allowing the judge
or jury to reach a verdict. If the defendant is found guilty, the next stage is sentencing, but before this occurs there will be a “pre-sentence investigation”, designed to determine whether community supervision is a potential sentence, based on a number of conditions and facts about the individual. The judge will consider a range of factors, including but not limited to:
Once all of these factors have been considered, the judge will sentence the defendant. It is important that you have an experienced, qualified legal professional on hand to help ensure that your legal process runs as smoothly as possible, to maximize your chances of success.