Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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 for Middleton, Nampa, Parma, Wilder, Greenleaf, Notus and Canyon County. Misdemeanors and infractions that occur within Caldwell city limits are handled by the Caldwell City Prosecuting Attorney.
- 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.
What is the difference between a felony charge and a misdemeanor charge?
A felony conviction can result in a prison sentence, while a person who is convicted of a misdemeanor faces a maximum of county jail time.
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 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, Canyon County provides an online court calendar that is updated on a weekly basis.
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.
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 by visiting their web page.
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. It is important to note that 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’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.
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.
I am the victim of a crime, but would like all charges dropped. Can I do that?
Only the Prosecutor can drop charges against a Defendant; however you should let the Prosecutor’s Office know if you no longer wish to proceed with the case. While the Prosecutor will take your wishes into consideration, the Prosecutor must also take into consideration the safety of the community and other factors when making a decision to drop charges or proceed with the case.
Please contact our office at 208-454-7391 if you have questions or concerns.
What if someone threatens me while my case is pending?
It is a crime for anyone to threaten, harass or intimidate you to prevent you from testifying at any court proceeding. If anyone uses force or threatens to harm you or a member of your family, report the threat immediately to your local law enforcement agency and notify the Prosecutor’s Office as soon as possible.
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 Prosecuting Attorney’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.
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.
As a witness, what should I remember to do if called to testify?
Tell the truth.
It is the duty of a witness to tell the truth, whether or not it is advantageous to the prosecutor’s or defense’s case. If you don’t know the answer to the question, say so.
Listen carefully to the question asked and only answer the question asked.
Witnesses frequently start volunteering more information than what has been asked, because they are trying to tell the entire story as they know it. Try to remember that testifying is not like the type of conversations we have in normal, every-day life. Testifying is a process of being asked a question on a specific topic and giving an answer to that question. If an attorney asking the questions requests additional details, then he/she will ask additional questions.
Never guess when answering a question.
You may only testify about facts of which you have personal knowledge. When a witness doesn’t know the answer to a question or cannot remember the answer, they should say so. Do not guess. Do not testify to facts to which you are not sure.
Do not be afraid of correcting a mistake.
If you realize you made a mistake in your testimony, say so.
If you don’t understand a question that’s been asked, ask for clarification.
It is acceptable to advise an attorney that you did not understand the question asked and ask him/her to restate the question in a different way.
Think about the answer before you state it.
A short pause before you answer a question allows for you to think about the question and also allows an attorney to object to a question before you answer. If you begin to answer a question and there is an objection, you must not continue with your answer. Let the lawyers and the judge work out the problem. You will then be instructed to answer the question or not to answer the question. If you have forgotten the question, let the attorney know that you have forgotten the question and ask if it can be repeated.
How do I know if I have to attend a hearing?
The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office issues subpoenas to direct certain witnesses to attend hearings. These subpoenas are served on witnesses by the Sheriff’s Office or in some cases, mailed. If you receive a subpoena make sure you keep it. It contains valuable information, such as the case to which the subpoena applies, when the hearing is and where to go.
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.
What should I do if my address changes?
It is very important that you immediately notify our office of any change in your phone number or address. You will be kept informed of any major developments in the case as they occur and will be notified of court appearances that you will be required to attend.
Testifying in Court
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.
Where do I go if I receive a subpoena from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office?
A subpoena states the date and time a witness needs to appear for the court hearing. It is helpful to arrive ten to fifteen minutes before the scheduled court time and report to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to find out which court room to go to. If a Victim Witness Coordinator is assigned, she will accompany you to the hearing. The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is located on the west wing of the third floor of the Canyon County Courthouse.
Should I bring anything besides my subpoena to court?
Witnesses should consider bringing something to do in case there is a delay in testifying. For various reasons, court hearings may not begin at the exact time indicated on the subpoena. Furthermore, a witness may have to wait while other witnesses testify in the same case.
What do I do if my employer does not want to release me to come testify or if I have a scheduling conflict?
If a witness is having problems with their employer or with a scheduling conflict, they should contact the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office immediately.
What should I remember if I am called to testify?
Many people are, naturally, nervous about testifying. Visiting the courthouse and becoming familiar with the surroundings can go a long way towards calming nerves on the day of the hearing.
If you receive a subpoena and are having trouble remembering things, contact the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The office can provide the witness with a copy of any witness statement they may have made.
Avoid talking to other witnesses about what they saw, heard, etc. as a witness can only testify to his/her own first-hand knowledge of the event and not what has been told to him or her.
Who will be in the courtroom?
Everyone has a right to be in the courtroom unless excluded by the presiding judge. The reasons judges typically exclude people from the courtroom is if they are going to be witnesses during the hearing or if the person is being disruptive to the proceedings. The only exception to this is that the victim may choose to remain in the courtroom throughout the entire proceeding.
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.
What is a No Contact Order (NCO)?
If a criminal charge has been filed by the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, a No Contact Order is issued by the judge at arraignment or notice of the NCO is given when a warrant is served upon a Defendant. An NCO is an order signed by a judge prohibiting the Defendant in a criminal case from having any direct or indirect contact with the victim. If an individual violates either a civil protection order or an NCO, the victim should contact the police immediately. Although the violator may be gone by the time the police arrive, victims should still fill out an offense report, in order to keep a record of evidence for future possible charges.
The crimes to which a no contact order typically apply are assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, assault or battery with intent to commit a serious felony, domestic assault and battery (misdemeanor and felony), rape, sexual abuse of a minor, lewd conduct and phone harassment.
No Contact Orders have the same effect as a civil protection order. However, they may not be as detailed as civil protection orders or address issues such as child custody and possession of certain property of the parties. The prosecutor may ask for the court to enter a No Contact Order in order to prevent or limit the Defendant’s contact with the victim and with witnesses.
A No Contact Order is in addition to a civil protection. The fact that one has been withdrawn or dismissed does not simultaneously cause the other order to be withdrawn or dismissed.
How do I get a No Contact Order lifted?
Since the order is issued by a judge, it can only be lifted by a judge. If you wish for the NCO to be lifted, you should contact the Victim Witness Coordinator and request a referral to the Positive Safety Planning classes.
What is a Civil Protection Order (commonly referred to as CPO or CPOR)?
A Civil Protection Order is a legal document signed by a judge ordering the respondent to refrain from having any direct or indirect contact with the petitioner. Protective orders are civil matters, but a criminal charge of Violation of a CPO may be filed when a protective order is violated. Protection orders may be obtained through the County Clerk’s Office located on the 2nd floor of the Courthouse.
Actions to obtain protection orders are separate from the criminal proceedings handled by the prosecutor’s office. The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office does not file for civil protection orders or represent victims of crime in cases involving protection orders.
How do I obtain a restraining order or civil protection order?
Contact our office for information on obtaining a civil 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.