The Canyon County Prosecutor’s Office has put together a Gang Awareness Handbook for parents, teachers and concerned citizens. The handbook was developed to give citizens a better understanding of how the gangs in Canyon County in operate.
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. The Canyon County Prosecutor’s Office is concerned about data privacy, personal information, and overall identity security and would like to provide guidance to its constituents. If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, the following are highly recommended:
1. Consult an Identity Theft Resource Guide. Attached is a leading, step-by-step resource published by the Federal Trade Commission. As noted inside, immediate steps should include the following:
· Place an initial fraud alert through Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
· Order Your Credit Reports.
· Create an Identity Theft Report, consisting of an affidavit and a police report.
Depending on the type of identity taken, your next steps may vary. As noted in this excellent resource, it is important to notify the IRS unit regarding tax fraud at 1-800-908-4490 immediately. For other types of identity theft, a variety of resources and contact numbers are provided. This guide also includes important tips on keeping identity secure.
2. Contact your bank & credit card companies. You should alert any and all entities in which identify maybe present. The quicker you notify them the quicker you can stop the damage.
3. File a police report. Investigation and prosecution can be difficult especially when most identity theft by the time it takes place is outside of Canyon County. However, documenting everything is extremely important to law enforcement from around the country.
This information and future information is provided to the citizens of Canyon County to help prevent being a victim of identity theft.
To an outsider, the criminal justice system may seem daunting. This guide describes, in general terms, how criminal cases are prosecuted in Canyon County, Idaho.
A Crime is Reported – most criminal cases begin with a law enforcement agency. Cases are investigated by a city police agency, the county sheriff or the Idaho State Police. When a police officer or agency has probable cause to believe that a misdemeanor or felony has been committed, the case is referred to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office.
Suspect Charged – a person suspected of a crime may be charged in one of two ways. First is through an official Complaint from the Prosecutor’s Office filed with the court. The second is by convening a Grand Jury that makes a charging decision based upon the available evidence.
Arrest Made or Warrant Issued – once it has been determined that there is probable cause to show that a crime was committed, the investigating agency makes an arrest of the suspect, or the courts will publish a warrant asking for the suspect’s arrest.
Arraignment – a suspect’s first court appearance is called an arraignment and at this hearing the suspect is allowed an opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. Also during the arraignment the suspect is notified of the charges they face, what the penalty is for a conviction on those charges and is imposed conditions of release by the arraigning judge. The suspect may post bail themselves at this time, allowing his or her release, or the judge may opt to submit the suspect to the pre-trial release program.
Court Hearings – after the arraignment, but before trial, there are several court hearings that may or may not occur, depending on the type and severity of the case. These hearings include Preliminary Hearings, Pre Trial Conferences, Motions Hearings, and other hearings as deemed necessary by the circumstances of the case. It is often during these hearings that plea agreements are negotiated and resolved.
Preliminary Hearing – a hearing to determine if a person charged with a felony (a serious crime punishable by a term in the state prison) should be tried for the crime charged, based on whether there is some substantial evidence that he/she committed the crime. A preliminary hearing is held in the lowest local court (magistrate), but only if the prosecutor has filed the charge without asking the Grand Jury for an indictment for the alleged crime. Such a hearing must be held within a few days after arraignment (presentation in court of the charges and the defendant’s right to plead guilty or not guilty). If the judge finds sufficient evidence to try the defendant, the case is sent to the district court for trial. If there is no such convincing evidence, the judge will dismiss the charges.
Pre-Trial – A meeting of the prosecutor and the defense attorney held before the court prior to the commencement of actual courtroom proceedings. Generally, the term pretrial conference is used interchangeably with the term pretrial hearing. A pretrial conference may be conducted for several reasons: (1) expedite disposition of the case, (2) help the court establish managerial control over the case, (3) discourage wasteful pretrial activities, (4) improve the quality of the trial with thorough preparation, and (5) facilitate a settlement of the case.
Public Defender – once arraigned, the defendant may be appointed a Public Defender if they cannot afford an attorney of their own.
Plea Bargain – often, the Deputy Prosecuting Attorney assigned to the case will offer a plea bargain. A plea bargain requires the defendant to plead guilty in exchange for considerations from the Prosecutor’s Office. Plea bargains are generally offered to the defense attorney or Public Defender assigned to the case, then communicated to the defendant.
Trial – a defendant is afforded a chance to defend him or herself against the charges laid by the State at a jury trial or court trial. Court trials are for minor infractions and are overseen by a judge. Jury trials include a jury made up of Canyon County residents. For misdemeanor crimes a unanimous jury of six (6) individuals must make a decision. For felony crimes a unanimous jury of twelve (12) individuals must make a decision. The jury makes the final decision on guilt or innocence based upon the evidence presented to them.
Acquittal – if a defendant goes to trial and is found not guilty, they are considered to be acquitted and may not be charged again for the crimes that they were accused.
Conviction – when a defendant is found guilty of their crime by a jury or judge, they are considered to be convicted. Convictions may be appealed to a higher court for relief.
Sentencing – once a defendant has plead guilty or been convicted of the charges against them, sentencing is imposed by a judge. The terms of the sentence will vary based upon the crime type and severity and the defendant’s previous convictions, if any.
* graphic created by Chris Thompson, IA Dept. of Corr.
As a victim of a crime, I would like my property returned to me. How do I get it back?
Property may often be returned to a victim during or before a trial. However, if the property is of an important evidentiary nature, it may be required during the trial. Contact the investigating law enforcement agency to determine if your property may be returned to you.
Do I get paid to testify as a witness to a crime?
No. A free society is the benefit gained by testifying as to the truth about crime or crimes. While sometimes inconvenient, acting as a witness and stepping forward to testify helps to safeguard that free society. In some situations, the travel costs of a witness may be reimbursed, depending on the case and the circumstances surrounding it. Remember that a subpoena is a legal court order directing you to appear in court. Failing or refusing to answer a subpoena by appearing in court at the prescribed date and time may cause the court to issue an order for your arrest.
Does the Prosecutor’s Office provide free legal advice to tax payers?
No, the statutory duties of the Prosecutor’s Office does not extend to free legal advice. If you are a defendant in a criminal matter, and you cannot afford an attorney, one may be appointed for you by the court. Your defense attorney will provide you with legal advice regarding your court case. If you are not a defendant in a criminal case and need legal services that you cannot afford, Legal Aid may be able to help you. They can be contacted at (208) 336-8980 or visit their web page at www.idaholegalaid.org.
How do I find out the date and time of a specific hearing?
If you are the defendant in a criminal action you will be notified of all court hearings, either directly by the court or through your attorney. If you are a victim, witness or other interested party, you may be able to obtain information from our office at 208-454-7391. Please have the case number and defendant’s name handy when you call. In addition, the Prosecutor’s Office provides an online court calendar that is updated on a weekly basis.
How do I obtain a restraining order or civil protection order?
Contact our office for information on obtaining a a protection or restraining order. If you have been a victim of a crime, notify law enforcement immediately. On some cases, the Judge automatically enters an order to protect the victim and/or witnesses.
How long do most cases take to go through the system?
The length of each case will differ depending on case type and severity. Misdemeanors may take several months while more serious felonies sometimes take several years to go through the system from start to finish. Defendants have a right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Speak to an attorney about the specific definition of “speedy” in Idaho.
How will I know if a case has gone to trial?
If you are a victim of a crime and opt to make use of the victim’s services provided by the Prosecutor’s Office, you will be notified of the trial by letter or telephone. If you have a general interest in a case and would like to know the trial date or other information, call 208-454-7391 to get more details. Please have the case number and defendant’s name handy when you call.
I am a defendant, and I would like to talk with the Deputy Prosecutor assigned to my case, but he/she refuses to communicate with me. What do I do?
All attorneys in Idaho are governed by the Rules of Professional Conduct. These rules prevent prosecuting attorneys from speaking with a defendant, other than through the defendant’s defense attorney, whether private or court-appointed. Any questions or concerns about your case should be directed to your attorney.
I am not able to make my court date because of a conflict. Can it be changed?
The date and time of all court hearings are set by the Judge assigned to your case. Contact the assigned deputy prosecuting attorney immediately if you are not able to attend court. The deputy prosecuting attorney can make a request for a change, but any modifications to the court calendar will be made at the discretion of the Court. The Prosecuting Attorney has no control over the court calendar. Should you fail to make the proper arrangements and did not appear for your court hearing, a warrant may be issued by the court for your arrest.
I am the victim of a crime, but would like all charges dropped. Can I do that?
The decision to drop a case may only be made by the prosecutor. Please contact our office at 208-454-7391 if you have questions or concerns.
I have been served a subpoena and would like to know if I still will be needed for court. How do I get that information?
If you are no longer needed for court, you will receive a phone call from our office with that information. To confirm, you may call 208-454-7391 to get information about the court hearing. Please have the case number and defendant’s name handy when you call.
I need to download victim and/or restitution forms – where do I find them?
Visit our Download page for a list of all public services’ forms, including victim and restitution forms. Contact our office at 208-454-7391 if you need assistance filling out the forms.
I would like a copy of a police report. Can I obtain those reports?
If you are the defendant in a criminal case, all police reports will be delivered to your attorney according to the rules of discovery. If you are not the defendant in the case, you will need to submit a Public Records Request to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
If I am the victim of a crime, will I be required to testify?
Yes, it is likely that you will have to testify in court. Each defendant is afforded the right under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution of being present during any court proceedings against them.
What are my rights as a victim of crime?
Visit our Victim’s Services page to get more information about your rights as a victim. Or, contact our office at 208-454-7391 to speak with a Victim/Witness Coordinator about your case. NOTE: to receive victim’s services from our office, you must be the victim of a crime being prosecuted by the Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. If you’re not sure which office is prosecuting your case, contact us. If we don’t have your case in our office, we may be able to point you in the right direction.
What do I do if I witness a crime?
Call 911 immediately. Notice and remember any details about the person or persons who may have committed the crime. Cooperate with law enforcement and the Prosecutor’s Office. Provide as much detail as possible and appear in court when asked. As a witness to a crime, you are an important part of the process of making our community and neighborhoods safer.
What do I do if I’m the victim of a crime?
Call 911 immediately. The operator will notify the appropriate law enforcement agency. It is important to contact 911 as soon as possible because the sooner a crime is reported, the greater the chance that the perpetrator will be caught and prosecuted.
What kinds of cases are handled by the Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office?
The Prosecutor’s Office handles a variety of case types, including:
- All felony cases occurring in Canyon County.
- Felony and misdemeanor cases from other counties that have been transferred because of a conflict of interest.
- Misdemeanors and infractions committed in the county.
- Misdemeanors for Nampa, Parma, Wilder, Greenleaf, Notus and the county. Caldwell and Middleton misdemeanor cases are handled by the respective city attorneys’ office.
- Mental holds.
- Specialty court cases, including Mental Health Court, Drug Court, Domestic Violence Court, and DUI Court.
- Child Protection Act cases.
- Cases that fall under the purview of the Juvenile Corrections Act.
- In addition, the Prosecutor’s Office acts as official legal counsel for Canyon County, its elected officials and departments.