Idaho Domestic Violence Laws

In Idaho, domestic violence offenses carry the possibility of fines and incarceration. In addition to criminal penalties, committing domestic violence may serve as the basis for a court-issued protective order that places a number of restrictions on the person accused of domestic violence.

Domestic Violence: Crimes & Penalties

Idaho classifies certain violent acts as domestic violence crimes when the acts are committed between household members. Idaho criminal law defines household members as current or former spouses, people who cohabitate, or people who have a child in common, regardless of whether the child’s parents were ever married. In order to be considered household members, it is not necessary for people cohabitating to have been married or to have held themselves out to others as married.

Domestic violence offenses can carry significant penalties. A person who inflicts a traumatic injury while committing a battery against a household member is guilty of a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A traumatic injury occurs when physical force is used to cause a condition such as a wound or injury to the victim’s body. The injury does not need to be serious in order to be considered traumatic.

When the battery does not result in a traumatic injury, the person commits misdemeanor domestic battery. Similarly, a household member who commits an assault not involving a traumatic injury is guilty of misdemeanor domestic assault.

For a first conviction of either misdemeanor domestic battery or misdemeanor domestic assault, the defendant may be sentenced to a maximum of six months in jail and fined $1,000; however, if the defendant has prior convictions for domestic violence, a more severe punishment may be authorized. If the defendant has a prior conviction for misdemeanor domestic battery or misdemeanor domestic assault within the previous 10 years, the new conviction may be punished by up to 12 months in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000. If the defendant has two prior convictions within 15 years of the new conviction, the new conviction is a felony punishable by up to five years in state prison and a $5,000 fine.

Prior convictions are not the only factor that may trigger more severe punishment. If a domestic assault or battery is committed in the presence of a child (that is, any person under 16 years of age), the maximum penalties are doubled.

(Idaho Code Ann. § 18-918).

Protective Orders

A person who is a victim of domestic violence may petition the court for a protective order. The petition may be filed on the person’s own behalf or on behalf of the family or household member who is the victim of domestic violence. For purposes of domestic violence protective orders, “family member” means current or former spouses and persons related by blood, adoption, or marriage. “Household member” refers to people currently residing together as well as people who used to reside together but no longer share a residence. “Household member” also includes people who have a child in common, regardless of whether they were ever married or lived together.

(Idaho Code Ann. § § 39-6303, 39-6304).

Temporary Protective Orders

A court may grant a temporary protective order when the petitioner (the person filing the petition) claims that domestic violence might result if the order is not granted. A judge may grant a temporary protective order based on the petitioner’s affidavit, or the judge may hold a hearing. The respondent (the person that the petitioner seeks to restrain) does not have to be notified of the hearing. The order may contain provisions prohibiting the respondent from committing acts of domestic violence. The order may contain additional terms, such as a provision prohibiting the respondent from taking children outside of the court’s jurisdiction, or a requirement that the respondent move out of the home.

Full Hearing & Issuance of a Protective Order

A full hearing must be held within 14 days of the filing of a petition or the award of a temporary protective order. The respondent must be served with a notice of the hearing date, along with a copy of the petition and the temporary order, if one was granted. If, after conducting the hearing, the court determines that there is an immediate and present danger of the respondent committing domestic violence, the court may issue a protective order for a period not to exceed one year.

In addition to the forbidding acts of domestic violence, the protective order may:

  • award custody of minor children to either the petitioner or respondent,
  • require the respondent to move out of the shared home or the petitioner’s residence,
  • prohibit the respondent from directly or indirectly contacting the petitioner,
  • require the respondent to stay away from places that the petitioner frequents, such as the petitioner’s workplace,
  • order the respondent to take part in counseling or treatment services, and
  • other relief that the court deems necessary to protect a family or household member from domestic violence.

A respondent who violates the provisions of a protective order commits a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

(Idaho Code Ann. § § 39-6306, 39-6308, 39-6312).

Consult A Lawyer

If you are charged with a domestic violence offense in Idaho, or if someone accuses you in a petition for a protective order of committing domestic violence, you should speak with an experienced attorney. A conviction for a domestic violence crime can carry steep fines and jail time, and a protective order can affect where you live as well as affect your parental rights. A lawyer can evaluate your case and provide invaluable guidance throughout the entire process while protecting your rights.

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