Idaho Misdemeanor Crimes and Sentences

Learn how misdemeanor sentencing works in Idaho, how previous convictions affect sentences, and when you can get probation or a fine instead of jail time.

By , Legal Editor
Updated by Rebecca Pirius, Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated October 19, 2023

In Idaho, misdemeanors are crimes that may be punished by a year or less in county jail, a fine, or both. In contrast, felonies in Idaho are punishable by incarceration in state prison or death.

How Idaho Classifies Misdemeanors

Unlike many states, Idaho doesn't group misdemeanors into different classes for purposes of sentencing. Rather, the laws for most crimes provide the maximum sentence for that offense. If a law defines a crime as a misdemeanor but doesn't designate the penalty, the maximum punishment will be six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

A few low-level misdemeanors carry only a fine as a penalty, with no potential for a jail sentence. For instance, aiming a gun at someone (without malice) is punishable by a fine of $5 to $1,000

(Idaho Code §§ 18-111, 18-113, 18-3304 (2023).)

Misdemeanor Crimes and Penalties in Idaho

Several of the more serious misdemeanors in Idaho carry a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Some examples include:

The standard sentence—up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine—applies to many misdemeanors, such as:

It's also important to check the law for possible sentencing enhancements.

(Idaho Code §§ 18-904, 18-917, 18-1360, 18-2408, 18-3302b, 18-6402, 18-6409, 18-6711a, 18-7008, 18-7906 (2023).)

Enhanced Misdemeanor Penalties in Idaho

Idaho law permits enhanced penalties for certain repeat misdemeanors, misdemeanors targeting vulnerable or protected victims, and gang-related crimes. Below are some examples.

Repeat misdemeanors. A few misdemeanors in Idaho—including drunk driving and misdemeanor domestic violence—carry stiffer sentences for those with previous convictions for the same or similar crime, and they're treated as felonies with two previous convictions. Other examples of repeat misdemeanors that result in felony penalties include patronizing a prostitute, cyberharassment, threats against public officials, and child enticement.

Protected victims. Targeting protected victims can also result in increased penalties. For instance, misdemeanor assault committed against a police officer, first responder, correctional employee, or judge can result in a felony conviction or double the underlying punishment.

Gang enhancement. Committing a misdemeanor for the benefit of, or at the direction of, a gang may result in a separate conviction. For a misdemeanor, a gang enhancement conviction carries up to an additional year in jail.

(Idaho Code §§ 18-915, 18-918(3), 18-1353A, 18-1509, 18-5614, 18-6711, 18-8005, 18-8503 (2023).)

Alternatives to Jail for Misdemeanor Sentences

It's up to the judge to decide the appropriate sentence in any criminal case, within the limits set by the relevant criminal statutes.

A judge may order incarceration, fines, or both. If the victim suffered a financial loss as a result of the crime, the judge may also order the defendant to pay restitution.

Under Idaho state policy, judges should consider placing convicted defendants in the community rather than in jail, after considering the individual circumstances. The judge may choose one of the sentencing alternatives:

Misdemeanor probation can last up to two years. For those who enter into a problem-solving court (like drug court), probation can extend one year past participation in the program. A defendant on probation must abide by the terms set by the judge or face revocation.

(Idaho Code §§ 18-113, 19-2521, 19-2601, 19-5304 (2023).)

Statute of Limitations for Misdemeanor Charges in Idaho

As in other states, prosecutors in Idaho must bring charges for most crimes within a certain period of time after the crime was allegedly committed. Known as a criminal statute of limitations, the time limit in Idaho is one year for almost all misdemeanors.

(Idaho Code § 19-403 (2023).)

Getting Legal Assistance

Even though a misdemeanor is less serious than a felony, a conviction can still have long-term negative consequences in your life—such as making it hard to get a job or housing. Any time you're facing criminal charges, you should talk to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer who is familiar with the local criminal system and cases like yours can determine whether you have grounds to get the charges dismissed, negotiate a favorable plea bargain if that's appropriate, and protect your rights throughout the proceedings.

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