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Some criminal arrests are for the types of crime you read about in newspapers or on television. However, a considerable number of arrests are made to maintain public order- arrests for drunken driving, disorderly conduct, family dispute, violations of Idaho ordinances, and the like. It is with these types of trouble that the normally law-abiding citizen is most often involved. If you find yourself the object of a policeman's orders, you should be aware of the policeman's latitude, as well as of your own legal rights and duties.
The nature of police work is a mystery to most people, and most television programs that portray various aspects of law enforcement are unrealistic. Placing a police uniform on a man does not turn him into a robot. Like anyone else, each officer is an individual with a unique personality. Policemen have a broad range of discretionary powers on the job, especially in handling "order maintenance" violations and other minor offenses. Police resolve many on-street situations and make an arrest only when their attempts to resolve these incidents are rebuffed, often because one or more of the people involved are drunk, high, or emotionally overwrought.
A policeman's duties compel him to exercise personal discretion many times every day, because crime does not look the same on the street as it does in the Idaho legislative chamber. Taking some typical violations a policeman will see on the Boise streets, we pose some questions:
How much noise and profanity make conduct disorderly within the meaning of the law?
When must a quarrel be treated as a criminal assault?
At the first threat, or at the first shove, or at the first blow, or after blood is drawn, or when serious injury is inflicted?
How suspicious must conduct be before there is "probable cause"?
Every policeman is an interpreter of the law. Every policeman,too, is an arbiter of social values, for he meets situation after situation in which invoking criminal sanctions is a questionable line of action. Finally, the manner in which a policeman works is influenced by the legal strength of evidence; the willingness of victims to press charges and of witnesses to testify; the temper of the community; the amount of time and information at the policeman's disposal.
Most often, police discretion is exercised with offenses that do not require an arrest. If you commit a serious crime, you will be arrested. But if you commit a minor offense, your best course will be to behave in a manner that will enable them to exercise that discretion. Belligerent behavior may leave the officer no choice but to arrest you. If you have acted foolishly, do not keep up your conduct in the officer's presence.
Modern society puts people under many stresses. And when they are subjected to a additional aggravation (alcohol, a divorce, drugs, or a frustrated romance), a person may behave in a manner that leads to confrontation. If this happens to you, you would be best advised to get hold of yourself, calm down, and apologize to the appropriate parties. It may make the difference between your waking up with an aching head in your own bed rather a hard institutional bed in the Ada County lockup. Remember: If you are under the influence, you may think you are right but you are probably wrong.
Usually you have been arrested when a police officer or a citizen takes you into custody and deprives you of your freedom so that you may be held to answer for a crime or an offense that has been committed. Learn more about Title 19 Criminal Procedure in Idaho Statues
Basic principles state being disorderly or drunk in public or failing to obey a local order-maintenance ordinance is an offense or violation but not a crime. Crimes are divided into felonies and misdemeanors, felonies being the more serious of the two. Murder, burglary, robbery, rape, assault with a deadly weapon, theft of large sums of money or property, and the like are considered felonies. Punishment for a felony usually involves more than one year in Idaho state prison.
Misdemeanors generally have a maximum penalty of up to a year in the local county jail or a fine. Petit larceny, shoplifting, simple assault where the victim is injured without the use of a deadly weapon, drunken driving (DUI driving under the influence), and some order maintenance infractions, such as unlawful assembly, are examples of misdemeanors. Lesser offenses to public order are generally classified as violations, punishable by fines or jail sentences of no more than 30 days.
Most common is the on-the-scene arrest by a police officer for a crime or offense you have committed or are committing in his presence. You may also be arrested if the police officer has reason to believe you have committed a felony, even though the crime was not committed in his presence. An officer may also take you into custody if you have been arrested by a private citizen and the officer believes that the arrest was proper. In none of these cases does the officer need an arrest warrant.
Anyone making an arrest without a warrant must tell you the reason for the arrest. Generally speaking, the police officer will tell you that you are under arrest for whatever the crime or offense is, so long as it is not obvious to one and all. However, if you are coming out of a bank with a gun in your hand, the officer is not going to tell you that you are under arrest for bank robbery, since it is obvious what the crime is and that you are involved. The officer will merely say: "Police! Don't move!"
Arrests made by citizens is usually for shoplifting or for some other offense involving a merchant, where the offender is apprehended by the merchant or by a security guard. The business or security guard will detain you until the police arrive, then hand you over to them for transportation to the local police station and eventual arraignment in court. In these cases, the police are merely acting as escorting officers. As a private citizen you may arrest someone without a warrant if he is attempting to commit a crime in your presence. For example, you find someone breaking into your house, you have the right to hold him-in effect, to arrest him-for the attempted burglary.
The significant difference between an arrest made by a citizen and one made by the police is the liability for an improper arrest. Even though the private citizen may have had reasonable cause to believe that you committed an offense, if it later turns out that you did not, you can sue him for damages. However, if a policeman arrests you and the officer was acting in an official capacity, without malice, then he is immune from a civil suit. In addition, if a citizen is attempting to arrest you for a crime and you do not believe that you did it, you may resist. But you may not resist an arrest being made by a police officer, no matter how innocent you believe you are.
A police officer may also arrest you by authority of an arrest warrant- a written order issued by a judge, stating that an officer must arrest you in order to bring you before the judge to answer a complaint or charge that has been filed against you by the police, by a citizen, or by a grand jury. You havethe right to see the warrant. However, because people sometimes try to rip up a warrant or deface it, many officers will hold the warrant so that you can only examine it, but will not actually hand it to you.
Instead of requiring the officer to arrest a person, a search warrant in effect require officers to "arrest" or seize the property described and bring it to court. Again, the police will show you the warrant and will also leave you a receipt for all property seized.
The officer may break open a door or window if you refuse to admit him after he has given you notice. Sometimes the judge empowers the officer not to give notice before breaking in. This is done when the personal property sought can too easily be destroyed (such as marijuana, drugs or paper records) or when the police would be exposed to unnecessary danger. In such cases, the police may break in unannounced. Anything-even something unlawful, such as stolen property-that is taken by the police without a warrant cannot later be used in evidence against you. However, anything taken in a search warrant may be used against you in court. If you hire us as a Boise criminal defense attorney, we will help you.
With the exception of the frisk situation discussed below, and when you are actually arrested, an officer who stops you on the street or who desires to enter your home must have a search warrant to search you, your personal property, or your home, unless you consent to a search.
The law permits an officer to stop you in a public place if he reasonably suspects you are committing, have committed, or are about to commit a serious crime. He may demand to have your name, address, and an explanation of your actions. In addition, if the officer reasonably suspects that he is in danger, he may frisk, or pat down your clothing or handbag for instruments or weapons that could cause injury. If the officer finds a weapon, he may keep it until he finishes questioning you. If no arrest is made, he will return the weapon to you, provided you have a permit to carry it. If, while frisking you for dangerous weapons, the officer finds something else on you that is illegal to possess (for example, marijuana), he may arrest you in Idaho.
The officer will usually begin by telling you that you are under arrest. Since thousands of police are assaulted and many are killed while making arrests, the officer will handcuff you, probably with your hands behind your back. Do not resist him. If you do, he will use whatever force is necessary to overcome resistance and may also charge you with resisting arrest. Remember, the officer is simply doing his job. If you have committed an act that requires an arrest, your guilt or innocence will be determined at a later time in court.
After arrest, you may legally be searched for any personal effects on you at that time. Also, the immediate area where you are arrested may be searched. Anywhere you could easily reach for weapons, such as a nearby drawer or automobile glove compartment, may be examined.
If you are arrested for a crime like a felony or a serious misdemeanor, you will be fingerprinted and photographed. You will be asked to sign standard fingerprint forms. Sign them. Many people misunderstand this procedure, viewing it as some confession of guilt, and refuse to sign the forms. You will not be released on bail until they are processed, cooperation is obviously your best course of action. You will have to surrender your personal possessions and issued a receipt for them.
Whether you are an adult or a juvenile, you have certain rights.
(1) You have a right to telephone your friends, family,or lawyer in order to notify them of your arrest. Some police agencies make these calls for you, but most dial the number for you and allow you to conduct the conversation. You have a right to speak to a Boise criminal lawyer at the police station house.
(2) You have the right to remain silent-either completely silent or to answer some questions AND not others.
(3) You cannot be made to answer any questions or sign any statement.
Sometimes the police officer who arrested you will promise to help you in exchange for your confession or for certain other information. Such promises may be binding when made by the district attorney but are not always binding when made by the police. When you appear in court, you will be asked by the judge to plead guilty or not guilty. The judge may also ask you if any promises have been made to you; if such promises have been made, you should mention them before the court.
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Before the police question you they must tell you of your right to remain silent and that any statements may be used against you. Furthermore, you must be advised that you have the right to speak with a criminal lawyer and to have him with you when you are questioned. The police must also tell you that if you want to speak with a defense attorney before being questioned and cannot afford one, one will be assigned to you without cost. If you request a defense lawyer, the questioning may not proceed until the Boise attorney is present. Also note that if you allow the police to question you, you may still stop answering questions at any point and request to have a defense attorney present before the questioning continues. Moreover, if you are asked to stand in a police lineup, you have the right to have a criminal lawyer present.
Generally, unless you were arrested for a minor offense with no fingerprinting, the records will be extensive. Copies of your fingerprints will be permanently filed with the FBI as well as with state and local agencies for several years. Due to the fingerprint classification system, the files will positively identify you as the individual who was arrested. Therefore, it is important to demand the return of these fingerprints if you are acquitted of the charge. This is generally done by filing a form with the clerk of the court.
If you are arrested for a serious crime, you will be subjected to a body cavity search. Females have the right to have this search conducted by a woman.
Once the arrest processing or "booking" is completed, you must be taken to court without "unnecessary delay." What constitutes delay depends on where you have been arrested. If you are arrested in Boise or Ada County, you may have to remain in detention for a day before you can be brought before a judge to plead.
For a misdemeanor or lesser offense, usually you can be released by posting a money bail. The police will not set bail for felonies.
At the arraignment the judge will inform you of the charge against you, of your right to legal counsel if you appear without a criminal defense lawyer, and of your right to have a Boise attorney assigned by the court if you cannot afford one. If the case is not a minor matter that will be settled the sameday, the judge will set bail or release you on your promise to return on an appointed date. If bail is set and you do not have enough money or other security to post bail, you can try to hire the services of a professional bondsman. The fee for this service varies from state to state, but is usually 5 percent for the first $1,000, with smaller percentages for additional amounts. Many bondsmen will require some form of collateral or the signature guarantee of a third person.
If you are charged with a serious crime, you may be entitled to a preliminary hearing.
At a preliminary hearing the judge will determine whether there are sufficient grounds to hold you on the charges that have been brought against you. He will examine the person who brought the charges against you as well as other key witnesses. You have the right to make a statement on your own behalf if you wish to do so. You or your defense lawyer (and this should certainly be done by a Top Boise criminal defense attorney) also have the right to cross-examine the people who testify against you at the preliminary hearing.
If the judge is satisfiedthat probable or reasonable cause exists for your arrest, he will direct that you be held or released on bail until such time as a formal trial can be held."Probable or reasonable cause" means that upon analysis of the facts it is more probable than not that you committed the particular crime or offense. It is not as strict a standard as "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," which is the standard that will be used to determine your guilt or innocence at your actual trial. If the judge decides to hold you after the preliminary hearing, it will be for actual trial on a misdemeanor charge, or for the action of the grand jury if the charge is a felony.
A preliminary hearing is not mandatory. The prosecuting attorney may bypass it and request a grand jury to indict you. The grand jury proceeding takes the place of your preliminary hearing.
If you are charged with a minor offense you will be asked by the arraigning judge whether you plead guilty or not guilty. Should you plead not guilty, your case may be adjourned for trial, or, in most Idaho courts, you may have your trial then and there.
You may proceed to have your trial without a criminal defense attorney, but this is not advisable. If you wish to plead guilty to a minor offense, you can sometimes find out informally what the fine will be.However, in any case that is the least bit serious, it is advisable to have a defense lawyer. If you are going to be held in jail in lieu of bail, the judge must inform you of your right to use a telephone, send letters free of charge, get a criminal attorney in Boise, and tell family or friends about your arrest.
As you can see, the criminal justice system is complex and often confusing. It is far better to avoid this labyrinth of complexities altogether.
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Reasonable ground for suspicion, supported by circumstances strong enough to warrant a cautious man's belief that the law has been, or is being violated. A police officer must have probable cause to make an arrest or search.
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