Idaho Laws on Assault and Aggravated Assault

Assault charges in Idaho can land you in jail or prison.

By , Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated April 05, 2024

Assault crimes in Idaho carry penalties that range from misdemeanors to serious felonies. Read on to learn how Idaho defines and punishes assault, aggravated assault, and related offenses.

For information on domestic assaults, check out Idaho Domestic Violence Laws.

What Is an Assault Crime in Idaho?

An assault is basically an attempted battery in Idaho. The law defines assault as:

  • an unlawful attempt to commit a violent injury on another, or
  • an intentional threat to harm another.

Both types of assault require that the defendant appear capable of inflicting harm.

When charging a person with an attempt to cause another injury, the prosecution must prove the defendant intended to harm the victim. Charges for threatening harm require the prosecution to prove the defendant did some act that caused the victim to fear imminent harm.

Examples of assault might include holding a bat and threatening to give the person a good beating or trying to punch someone but missing.

(Idaho Code § 18-901 (2024).)

What Is Aggravated Assault in Idaho?

A person commits aggravated assault by attempting or threatening to harm another:

  • by means likely to cause great bodily harm
  • with a deadly weapon or instrument, or
  • with corrosive acid or a caustic chemical.

Examples of aggravated assault could be pointing a gun at someone and threatening to shoot them or firing the gun and missing. Driving a truck directly at someone and threatening to crush them is another example, as is aiming and trying to spray oven cleaner at another.

Great bodily harm. The law doesn't define what constitutes great bodily harm. Court cases only note that these injuries are more serious than "bodily harm." While it's up to a jury to decide what rises to the level of great bodily harm, some examples could be serious lacerations or stab wounds, gunshot wounds, broken bones, or injuries that could require surgery.

Deadly weapons and instruments can include weapons such as guns (loaded or unloaded), knives, brass knuckles, or bully sticks. It can also include items used in a deadly manner, such as steel-toed boots, a baseball bat, a sock weighted with rocks, or a crowbar.

(Idaho Code § 18-903 (2024).)

What Are the Penalties for Assault and Aggravated Assault in Idaho?

Assault penalties range from a misdemeanor to a serious felony depending on the conduct involved and the targeted victim.

Assault Penalties

A person convicted of assault faces a misdemeanor penalty of up to three months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The penalty increases to a felony if the person assaults certain protected employees while they are performing their duties or because of their duties or status. Examples of protected employees include judges, magistrates, jailers, correctional employees, and probation officers. This felony carries a maximum 5-year prison sentence.

(Idaho Code §§ 18-902, 18-915 (2024).)

Aggravated Assault Penalties

Aggravated assault carries a maximum 5-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine.

Similar to assault, targeting certain protected employees will result in harsher penalties. For aggravated assault, the penalties double—meaning a person can face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The list of protected employees is longer for aggravated assault. They include judges, magistrates, jailers, correctional employees, and probation officers, as well as prosecutors, public defenders, police officers, bailiffs, EMS dispatchers, water resources and parks and rec officers, and public utility employees.

(Idaho Code §§ 18-906, 18-915 (2024).)

Penalties for Assault With Intent to Commit a Serious Felony

Idaho has a separate penalty for assaults committed with the intent to commit murder, rape, mayhem, robbery, or lewd and lascivious conduct with a child. This assault crime carries up to 15 years in prison.

(Idaho Code §§ 18-909, 18-910, 18-915 (2024).)

Enhanced Penalties for Repeat or Violent Assaults in Idaho

Idaho law imposes harsh penalties for repeat felony offenders and defendants who brandish a weapon or firearm during an assault.

Extended Sentence for Use of a Firearm or Deadly Weapon

A defendant who displayed or threatened to use a firearm or deadly weapon will face an extended sentence. The law tacks on an additional 15 years to the maximum sentence allowed for aggravated assault or assault with intent to commit a serious felony.

(Idaho Code § 19-2520 (2024).)

Repeat Felony Offender

Idaho allows a judge to impose up to a life sentence for a third felony conviction (for any felony). This three-strikes law ("persistent violators") also imposes a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 5 years.

(Idaho Code § 19-2514 (2024).)

Defending Against Assault Charges in Idaho

Defendants charged with assault may try to raise a defense to the charges or challenge the prosecution's case.

Self-defense. A defendant might claim self-defense or defense of others if the alleged victim started the altercation or was about to. To be successful, the defendant can only use as much force as is reasonably necessary to prevent the threatened injuries.

Reasonable doubt. The defense might also try to poke holes in the prosecution's case by arguing the prosecution failed to prove the required intent or injuries. In this case, the defense might be able to get the charges dismissed or reduced.

(Idaho Code §§ 19-202, 19-202A (2024).)

Getting Legal Help

If you're facing assault charges in Idaho, contact a criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can help explain the charges, protect your rights, and defend your case.

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