Idaho Assault and Battery Laws
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Assault in Idaho is an attempt to cause physical injury to another person – for instance, attempting to strike someone with a hand or object, and missing. Assault also is any intentional act or threat of action that reasonably causes a person to feel afraid of impending violence. Threatening to beat up someone or to "break your arm," when said in a menacing or angry manner, is assault if it appears that the assailant has the ability to carry out the threat and the victim believes or could reasonably believe that he is about to be struck or injured. (Idaho Code. Ann. §18-901.)
Battery in Idaho is actual offensive physical contact, such as punching another person or hitting someone with an object, or intentional infliction of injury to another. (Idaho Code Ann. §18-903.) Striking another person with a fist during an argument or pushing someone are straightforward examples of simple battery. A more unusual example of battery is grabbing and ripping someone’s clothing in anger. This is considered a touching because the clothing is an extension of the person.
Domestic Assault and Battery
The Idaho statutes treat domestic violence differently than other assault and battery crimes. If a battery against a household member results in any injury – minor or severe – the battery is a felony offense punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine or both. An assault or battery against a household member that does not result in injury is treated as any other assault or battery unless it is a second conviction for domestic violence, in which case the penalties are higher, or a third or subsequent conviction, in which case the crime is a felony.
A household member is a spouse, former spouse, someone with whom the offender has a child, or someone with whom the offender lives. (Idaho Code Ann. §18-918.)
Penalties for Assault in Idaho
A person convicted of an assault faces the following penalties:
- up to three months in jail or a fine up to $1,000 or both
- probation up to three months, and
Penalties for Battery in Idaho
The penalties for battery are:
- up to six months in jail or a fine up to $1,000 or both
- up to one year in jail or fine up to $1,000 or both if: the victim is a pregnant woman and the assailant knew of the pregnancy; or the crime is a second conviction for domestic violence
- probation up to six months, and
Assault or Battery Against Certain Victims
Someone who commits assault or battery on certain victims, if the offender knew or had reason to know of the victim’s employment status, is subject to double the normal penalties for assault or battery. These victims include but are not limited to a district attorney, public defender, firefighter, Department of Health and Welfare caseworker or social worker, or emergency medical services personnel. (Idaho Code Ann. §18-915(1)(b).)
Someone who commits assault or battery on other “special victims,” including but not limited to, a judge, law enforcement, corrections officer, correctional facility employee, or misdemeanor or juvenile probation officer, because of action taken by the victim in the performance of his duties or because of the victim’s employment status, is guilty of a felony and subject to a sentence of up to five years in prison. (Idaho Code Ann. §18-915(2).)
Someone who commits an assault or a battery consisting of offensive touching against a police officer also is subject to double the normal penalties for the crime. Any other battery offense against a police officer is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. (Idaho Code Ann. §18-915(3).)
The court can impose probation instead of jail time for the entire sentence for assault or battery, or after the defendant has spent some time in jail. For instance, a judge in a simple battery case can sentence a defendant to thirty days in jail and five months on probation.
Probationers must meet regularly with their probation officers and comply with conditions set by the court, such as no further arrests or convictions, attending counseling or performing community service. Failing to comply with a condition of probation can result in arrest and an order to serve the remainder or a remaining part of one's sentence in jail.
A person convicted of assault or battery in Idaho can be required to pay restitution, which means reimbursing the victim for any expenses resulting from the crime, such as the cost of medical treatment or counseling. (Idaho Code Ann. §19-5304.)
Pleas and Pre-Trial Options
If you are charged with assault or battery in Idaho, an attorney can investigate the case and determine if you were wrongfully charged or there are other reasons why the case should be dismissed before trial. If the charges are not dismissed, an attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor on your behalf, or prepare a defense and represent you at trial if you believe you have been wrongly accused or if there are no reasonable plea options. Prosecutors often will negotiate and agree to let the defendant plead guilty to a different, less serious crime. Or, the prosecutor may agree to a lighter sentence, such as probation, in exchange for a plea of guilty to the charge.
The Value of Good Representation
A conviction for a misdemeanor becomes part of your permanent criminal record. If you are convicted later of another crime, the court can consider your prior conviction and impose a harsher sentence in the new case. A criminal record—even a misdemeanor conviction, and particularly a conviction for a violent crime—can hurt you when you are looking for a job or applying to rent a house or apartment.
Only someone familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome in court or at the negotiating table. A knowledgeable attorney will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.