Idaho Domestic Violence Laws

Learn what criminal charges and penalties a person can face for harming or threatening a household member in Idaho.

By , Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated April 09, 2024

In Idaho, domestic violence incidents can result in criminal charges and enhanced penalties. Read on to learn more.

What Is Domestic Violence in Idaho?

Idaho law uses a few different definitions of "domestic violence." In criminal cases, domestic violence occurs when a person threatens or harms a household member.

Household members include:

  • current and former spouses
  • current cohabitants
  • persons who have a child in common (regardless of relationship status), and
  • in some contexts, current and former dating partners.

The most commonly charged domestic violence crimes include domestic assault, domestic battery, stalking, strangulation, and violations of protection or no-contact orders. Below are summaries of these crimes and their penalties.

What Is Domestic Assault and Battery in Idaho?

Domestic assault or battery occurs when a defendant commits assault or battery against a household member. "Household members" include spouses, former spouses, people residing together, and persons who have a child in common.

Assault. An assault occurs when a person attempts to harm another or threatens to harm them. For example, a person who threatens to "choke the life out of" their spouse while angrily moving toward them commits a domestic assault. Swinging a fist at a live-in boyfriend and missing would also be domestic assault.

Battery. A person commits battery by using force or violence against another, unlawfully touching or striking another, or intentionally causing harm to another. An example of domestic battery would be an ex-husband shoving his ex-wife against the wall or grabbing her forcefully by the hair.

What Are the Penalties for Domestic Assault or Battery in Idaho?

Charges for domestic assault and battery quickly ramp up from a misdemeanor to a felony any time a victim suffers "traumatic injuries" or the defendant has prior, similar convictions. Traumatic injury occurs when a person uses physical force to cause a minor or serious wound or injury (internal or external). These injuries can be as minor as bruising or physical pain without bruising.

Misdemeanor Penalties for Domestic Assault or Battery

Misdemeanor penalties for domestic assault or battery apply only when there's been no traumatic injury to a victim.

A first conviction carries up to six months of jail time and a $1,000 fine. Defendants with a prior conviction for misdemeanor domestic assault or battery or a protection order violation face up to a year of jail time and a $2,000 fine. A third or subsequent conviction bumps up to a felony. (See the "Enhanced Felony Penalties" section below.)

Felony Penalties for Domestic Battery

Any domestic battery resulting in traumatic injuries carries serious felony penalties—up to 10 years of prison time and a $10,000 fine.

Because traumatic injury can be any pain, wound, or injury, prosecutors can charge felony domestic battery for minor harm, such as bruising, pain, or a minor laceration. For instance, kicking someone, grazing someone with a blade, or grabbing someone's arm and bruising them would all likely fall under the definition of traumatic injuries and felony domestic battery.

Penalties Double for Domestic Violence in the Presence of a Child

Committing a domestic assault or battery in the presence of a child younger than 16 doubles the potential penalties. The law applies when the violence occurs in the child's physical presence or when the defendant knows a child is present and could see or hear the violence.

Enhanced Felony Penalties for Repeat Domestic Violence Offenders

Repeat domestic violence offenders can face enhanced charges or penalties in Idaho.

Third misdemeanor; felony charges. For instance, a misdemeanor domestic assault or battery increases to a felony if the person has two or more prior convictions for the same offense or for a protection order violation. This felony carries up to five years of prison time and a $5,000 fine.

Felony, then misdemeanor. A person convicted of a misdemeanor domestic assault or battery can also face felony penalties if they have a prior conviction for felony domestic battery or felony protection order violation. In this case, the person can face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Persistent felony violators. For "persistent felony violators," Idaho allows a judge to impose up to a life sentence upon a person's third felony conviction (for any felony). The judge must impose at least a five-year prison sentence under this three-strikes law.

(Idaho Code §§ 18-918, 19-2514 (2024).)

Other Domestic Violence-Related Crimes in Idaho

Domestic violence crimes involve more than assault and battery. Related crimes include strangulation, violation of protection orders, and stalking.

Penalties for Attempted Strangulation

Attempted strangulation of a household member or current or former dating partner is a felony offense in Idaho. This crime carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence.

(Idaho Code § 18-923 (2024).)

Violation of a Protection Order or No-Contact Order

Victims of domestic violence can ask for or receive court orders that prohibit the abuser from contacting or harming the victim. A judge can issue these orders in a criminal case (called "no-contact orders") or in civil court at the request of the victim (called a "protection order").

Violating either type of order is a crime. A violation of a civil protection order carries a maximum one-year jail sentence and a $5,000 fine. For no-contact orders, a first or second violation also carries up to one year of jail time. A third or subsequent violation comes with felony penalties of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

(Idaho Code §§ 18-920, 39-6312 (2024).)

Penalties for Stalking Crimes

Stalking crimes cover acts against any victim, not specifically household members. However, the law imposes harsher penalties when stalking involves the same victim or a violation of a protection order.

A person stalks another by engaging in repeat conduct that:

  • places a victim in fear of death or physical harm (for themself or a family member), or
  • seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses victim in a manner that would cause a reasonable person substantial emotional distress.

The type of repeat acts that may constitute stalking include surveilling or following another, sending repeat emails or electronic communications to another, or showing up at the victim's home or work.

Stalking starts as a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year of jail time and a $1,000 fine. The crime increases to a felony if:

  • the stalking conduct violates a protection or no-contact order
  • the defendant has a prior stalking conviction, or
  • the defendant has a prior conviction for certain crimes involving the same victim.

Felony stalking carries a minimum one-year sentence and up to five years of prison time and a $10,000 fine.

(Idaho Code §§ 18-7905, 18-7906 (2024).)

Consult a Lawyer

If you're charged with a domestic violence crime or served with a protection order, contact a criminal defense lawyer. A conviction for a domestic violence crime can carry steep fines and jail time. It can also impact your right to possess a firearm. A protection order can affect where you live, who you can contact, and where you can go. A lawyer can evaluate your case and provide invaluable guidance throughout the entire process while protecting your rights.

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