CAN I GET MY FELONY CHARGE NEGOTIATED TO A MISDEMEANOR IN IDAHO?
It is possible, but it depends.
In Idaho, there are basically two types of criminal charges that can be brought. One is a Felony charge, which essentially means the maximum penalties can amount to over 1 year in jail, and the second is a Misdemeanor, charges where you can’t go to jail for more than one year. With Felonies, there is the possibility of prison; however, you can’t go to prison on a misdemeanor.
REDUCING A FELONY TO A MISDEMEANOR IS USUALLY UP TO THE PROSECUTOR
Many times when criminal charges are brought against someone in Idaho, they might hear of another person’s case that was reduced to a misdemeanor. This is often heard in court, in jail, or maybe there is a friend or family member that has experience with a felony to misdemeanor reduction. It’s important to note, however, that just because this happens to someone else, does not mean that it will or can happen in your specific case. There are so many different factors that go into whether someone gets a reduction to a misdemeanor when they are charged with a Felony. At the end of the day, however, it is essentially up to the prosecutor in most circumstances, as they have to be on board for a misdemeanor resolution. It’s not something that is forced.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF MISDEMEANOR REDUCTIONS
What usually happens, is early on in the proceedings when the prosecutor gets the case from the police, they will review the reports and the other evidence (camera footage, audio, etc). If they think they have a situation where they will have difficulty proving the case at trial, they MIGHT make a misdemeanor offer. Meaning they will agree to amend the charge to a misdemeanor if the Defendant will plead guilty to the misdemeanor. This is a huge advantage to the Defendant because it allows them to not have a felony conviction on their record. Because jury trials are always a “roll of the dice,” a Defendant does not have to risk the chance of getting that conviction.
REDUCTION TO A MISDEMEANOR IS NOT UP TO THE JUDGE
Even when a prosecutor has a strong case against a Defendant, they may still decide to reduce to a misdemeanor. This is usually because the Defendant has little-to-no criminal history, or what the Defendant did was not all that egregious. Either way, its typically the prosecutor’s call. It’s not the judge’s decision to reduce felony charges to a misdemeanor. If the prosecutor can show probable cause of a felony, the charges will stand until it goes to trial. The judge will preside over all the proceedings and at trial, but they cannot reduce to a misdemeanor on their own.
COMMON CASES THAT GET MISDEMEANOR REDUCTIONS
Felony Domestic Battery cases are likely the most frequently reduced felony charges. This is because regular people with no criminal history get these charges. Furthermore, they are also messy cases that can be hard to prove. Often times the officer makes the arrest (which in most cases has to be a felony) to get the two apart, even though the evidence might be weak, but they’ll just let the prosecutor sort it out later. Often that “sorting out” means a misdemeanor because the evidence was not all that strong, the injuries were not that severe, and because the Defendant does not have any real criminal history.
Although your attorney cannot promise reductions to misdemeanors (no attorney can promise a result), they can be persuasive with the prosecutor in pursuing a misdemeanor reduction. Your attorney’s reputation with the prosecutor’s office can have an impact on whether you get a reduction, as can your attorney’s ability to try a case. At Hooper Law Offices, we have good reputations and relationships with the local prosecutor’s offices. We also have significant trial experience. Although we cannot promise resolutions, we have been successful in the past on receiving many misdemeanor reductions. If you are charged with any Felony in the state of Idaho, we are well equipped to help Defend you in your case. Contact us today!