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Felonies, Misdemeanors, and Infractions in Idaho

In the state of Idaho, offenses are generally considered criminal and non-criminal offenses. Criminal offenses are further classified into two, according to the Justice system of Idaho; they are felonies and misdemeanors. Non-criminal offenses on the other hand are minor offenses and violations known as infractions. Under the provisions of the Idaho Penal Code, punishments for the conviction of any criminal offense in the state are one or more of the following:

  • Death
  • Imprisonment
  • Fine
  • Removal from office
  • Disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit.
  • Withdrawal of licenses ( driving, gun professional etc)

The best course of action for an offender will depend on the type of offense they are indicted for. Depending on how serious an offense is, it can attract a combination of imprisonment and fine as a penalty, while capital felonies attract the death sentence or life imprisonment. Therefore, it is right to say that, just like other states in the US, the severity of different offenses in the state of Idaho defines the seriousness of the punishments they attract. Whatever the case, offenders are advised to seek professional legal counsel when they are on trial for a crime in Idaho.

What is a Felony in Idaho?


Felonies in the state of Idaho are the most serious crimes and attract severe penalties. They are mostly violent crimes that cause harm to people and wanton destruction to properties. In Idaho, a felony is any crime that is punishable by a death sentence or life imprisonment, with or without a heavy fine. The imprisonment must be served in a State prison and may be accompanied by a fine.

Idaho laws do not divide felony crimes into classes or levels like some other states. Instead, each felony act has a specific punishment earmarked for it. Therefore, the level of severity of punishments for felony crimes is not based on the class of a crime, but on the crime itself. For instance, the state Penal Code authorizes that an individual who commits assault with a deadly weapon should be charged with 5 to 15 years imprisonment, with or without a fine up to $5,000. Whereas, specific Idaho sex offenses, specifically a rape conviction, is punishable by a lifetime imprisonment (Idaho Code § 18-6104.)

On the other hand, any felony that does not have a specific punishment prescribed for it by law, is punishable by a fine up to $50,000, or imprisonment in a state prison up to five years, or both. However, the most severe penalty for a felony in Idaho is death or life imprisonment.

What are some examples of felonies in Idaho?

According to the Idaho Criminal Code, here are some of the typical felony crimes.

  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Injury to a child
  • Harassing a witness
  • Rape
  • Domestic battery
  • Kidnapping
  • Indecent exposure
  • Enticing children
  • Threats against state officials of the executive, legislative or judicial branch
  • Burglary
  • Aggravated battery
  • Trafficking
  • Murder

Can I get a felony removed from a court record in Idaho

It is possible but very difficult to get a felony conviction removed or expunged from a court record in Idaho. The state views felonies as very serious violations and their perpetrators dangerous, and a threat to public safety. As such, the state limits the expungement of felonies from criminal records.  A person may however be eligible to expunge such records as arrests, acquittals, information in sex offenders' registry, and juvenile offense records. But under the following conditions: 

  1. The person was arrested or served with a criminal summon but was not charged within a period of one year.
  2. The defendant was charged but was later acquitted of all convicted offenses. This may happen in the case of mistaken identity or identity theft.
  3. The applicant was a juvenile offender at the time of conviction (Idaho Code 20-525A) and has fulfilled the requirements of the law. Idaho justice system provides for the expungement of juvenile offenders' criminal records, provided it is not one of the felonies exempted from expungement. This is done in order to give young offenders a new lease on life, considering the negative long term effects a criminal record can have on a person's life.
  4. The person was granted a withheld judgment (this is granted only once in a lifetime in Idaho).  A Withheld judgment occurs when a defendant pleads guilty to a crime and requests for judgement to be  withheld. In such a situation, the judge does not pronounce  a 'conviction sentence' against the defendant but prescribes a punishment for the offense.  This means there's no court record of criminal conviction against the person. After serving the punishment, the defendant can request (in writing) for the case to be expunged;  so it looks as if the crime was  never committed. This  option actually confers the right on a person with an expunged criminal record to legally deny having ever been convicted of the crime. 

There is also the option of case Dismissal according to Idaho Code § 19-2604. This is applicable when an offender successfully completes his or her probation with no issues raised, and is able to show good cause (evidence of remorse or change of character). Such a case may be considered for retroactive dismissal. As a result, a court record that should read "guilty" will read "dismissed by court" instead, but it will still appear on FBI records as an arrest.

There are however, 19 specific felony crimes in Idaho that can never be eligible for expungement, according to the Penal Code Section 20-525A(4). Even if the applicant meets the conditions listed above, or was a juvenile at the time of commission of the crime, the record remains intact and available to the public. They include:

  • Poisoning with intention to kill, (Idaho Code 18-4014)
  • Assault with intent to commit murder
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping
  • Injury to a child
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Human trafficking
  • Unlawful use of destructive device or bomb
  • Cannibalism...among others

Is expungement the same as sealing court records in Idaho?

Expungement is not the same as sealing a court record in Idaho. An expunged record is removed or erased from one's criminal records, while a record is sealed from public access by a court order. When a record is expunged in Idaho, it is withdrawn from all public records and cannot be officially accessed during background checks  by employers, or landlords from the public domain. Only physical evidence of the records are destroyed, such as fingerprints, pictures taken of the defendant during documentation after arrest, then all other records taken in connection with the crime are sealed.

To get a criminal record  expunged, a person must apply in writing to the Idaho State Police (ISP), or download an expungement application form from their official website. All documents showing eligibility for expungement must be attached to the filled form before submitting it. It takes 30 days to process an expungement request by the ISP. However, it is noteworthy that records do not 'disappear' completely in Idaho. A copy is retained in  the State Repository and can be accessed by law enforcement agents when authorised by a court order.

In contrast, when a record is sealed, it is not destroyed, but it is not accessible. To seal a record, a court order is issued by a judge, authorising it to be sealed from any form of access to it. Nobody, including law enforcement agencies, may have access to such records without authorisation by the court. And the  court can only  approve such authorisation for certain special reasons such as criminal investigation purposes, especially for public security, or if the owner of the records requests for them. 

It is however not easy to get a criminal record sealed in Idaho. A record is only eligible for sealing if the applicant meets all the requirements spelt out by the state in Idaho Penal Code §67-3004(10). A written application must be submitted to the court, where the case will be considered. The judge holds the jurisdiction to either approve  or disapprove a request for records sealing. For instance, a juvenile offender's criminal record is eligible for sealing five years after he or she has either  become 18 years, been released from incarceration or the court jurisdiction has been completed, whichever if the three comes first.  

Just like under expungement, sealing is not applicable to some offenses in Idaho. All the conditions applicable for expungement also applies to sealing of adult records in Idaho. Therefore, sealing and expungement require the same set of requirements to enact them.

What are misdemeanors in Idaho?

Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies because they are mostly non-violent crimes in Idaho. But they are  considered serious enough to be punished by short jail terms and not so heavy fines. Idaho Penal Code  18-111 prescribes that  any crime that can be punished with  imprisonment in a state prison and also in a county jail, should be adjudged a misdemeanor, and can attract any punishment, inasmuch it is not imprisonment in the state prison. Other penalties of a misdemeanor in Idaho include:

  • Probation
  • Suspension of license
  • Compulsory attendance and completion of rehabilitation classes.

But where the law does not specify a particular punishment, a misdemeanor is punishable under the state Statutes (Idaho Penal Code 18-113)  by imprisonment in a county jail of not more than 6 months, and a fine not more than $1,000 or both. Also, if the law prescribes a penalty without a fine attached to it, a judge can impose a fine of up to $1,000.

Unlike what  obtains in some other states, the state of Idaho does not categorise misdemeanors into classes or degrees, but handles each case on a crime by crime basis. This means that each crime has a specific penalty attached to it. For instance, hitting someone (battery) attracts up to six months in a county  jail, or a fine of not more than $1,000, or both (Idaho Code Ann. § 18-904). However, a misdemeanor can be upgraded to a felony status if the person is a repeat offender, especially with DUI (Driving Under Influence) cases. This may lead to imprisonment of more than one year in a state prison.

What are some examples of misdemeanors in Idaho?

Some examples of misdemeanor convictions in the state of Idaho are:

  • Reckless driving
  • DUI (Driving under influence)
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Gambling
  • Petty theft
  • Over speeding
  • Battery
  • Harassment
  • Book making and pool selling
  • Unlawful possession of slot machines

Can I get a misdemeanor removed from a record in Idaho?

A misdemeanor conviction can be  expunged as long as the conditions spelt out in the Statutes are fully met by the applicant. Although, expungement in Idaho Justice System does not mean that the record will cease to exist; what it does mean is that the general public ceases to have access to it. Even law enforcement agencies need a court order before they can access it. 

The age of an offender helps to  determine whether a crime is eligible for expungement or not. Juvenile offenders can file for the expungement of criminal records, and the court might likely consider such an application if:

  • The Judge sees that the applicant was not convicted of an offense in which harm was targeted at another person;
  • The applicant has served punishment in a juvenile corrections facility;
  • The applicant is developing skills to become a useful and contributing member of the community; and
  • The expungement of the applicant’s criminal record will not put the peace of the whole community in jeopardy.

When these conditions are met, the court will order for the criminal record in question to be expunged, which will restrict access to it except another court order authorises access to it

Can a DUI be expunged in Idaho?

Yes it can, as a demeanor offense. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious crime in the state of Idaho. On many occasions it remains in the  records of a person for a very long time. As a misdemeanor, it can be expunged, but if it has changed  to a felony, it becomes very difficult, if not impossible to expunge. 

According to Idaho laws, the type of DUI offense determines whether it can be   expunged or not. A DUI offender can be a first-time, second-time or third-time   offender, depending on the frequency and interval of occurrence. Each DUI offense attracts a penalty commensurate to its level of seriousness. A first- time DUI offense is considered a misdemeanor and qualifies for expungement. The penalty is a jail term of not more than 6 months in a county jail and/or a fine of $1,000 and 90 to 180 days suspension of license.

The second DUI crime by an offender, within a period of 10 years after the first one, is still considered a misdemeanor conviction. It attracts a fine of not more than $2,000, and/or a jail term of not more than 1 year, also in a county jail and a year suspension of license with no driving privileges. However, a third DUI crime by the same offender, within a period of 10 years has become a felony under the law. It is punishable by a jail term of not more than 5 years in the State prison, and or a fine of not more than $5,000 and 5 years suspension of license.

Therefore, for a DUI conviction to qualify for expungement in the state of Idaho, Section 1 of the Criminal Procedure of the state of Idaho stipulates conditions that should be met. Once those conditions are met, the record can be expunged. 

What is an infraction in Idaho?

An infraction is not considered a crime in Idaho, as such it is not punishable by jail term, only by fine. According to Idaho Criminal Code, infractions are civil public offenses punishable by a fine of not more than $300 with no option of a jail term. 

Different infractions attract different amounts of money as fines in Idaho, since the state treats  each offense on its own merit. For instance, possessing or consuming alcoholic beverages in an open container, as a passenger in a public transport is an infraction.  It attracts a fixed fine of #15.50, court cost of $16.50 and some other fees; therefore, the total fine payable for it is $102. However, the Criminal Code of the state stipulates for every infraction with no specific prescribed  fine, the offender will pay a total of $15.50 as fine.

An infraction can be charged as a misdemeanor if the offense is committed repeatedly  within a stipulated period of time. Section 18-3906 of the state Criminal Code states that placing debris on highways is an infraction punishable by a fine of $150 for a  first offender. When a person commits the same offense within a period of two years  the fine increases to a maximum of $300. However, a third time offender of the  same  infraction within 3 years is convicted of a misdemeanor and sentenced to a jail term up to 30 days in  county jail and  up to  $1,000 fine.

What are some examples of infractions in Idaho?

Some of the examples of infractions in Idaho are:

  • Failure to fasten restraint
  • Failure to restrain a child in a car safety seat
  • Speeding in a construction zone
  • Speeding in a school zone
  • Permitting an unauthorized child under the age of 18 to operate a vehicle
  • Using an expired license
  • Operating a vehicle without registration
  • Texting while driving
  • Operating a motor vehicle without insurance
  • Overloading a truck
  • Improper water skiing
  • Permitting smoking in a public building or office

Can infractions be expunged from an Idaho Criminal Court Record?

Since infractions are not criminal offenses in the state of Idaho,  they are eligible for expungement. Just like in some other states, infractions do not enter a person's criminal record in the state of Idaho because they are just civil public offenses. There is therefore no need to file for expungement of infractions, since offenders are only issued tickets to pay fines for misbehaving in public, no court records or arrest documents are involved.

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