Most people who are accused of a crime are treated like criminals. We fight to preserve your rights and keep you out of jail. I am Boise, Idaho criminal defense attorney Chuck Peterson. For over forty years I have been a trial lawyer. Our office focuses on providing the best defense possible to our clients facing criminal charges and trying the best possible case for clients in civil actions. In every case, we try to bring a sense of reason to the situation and search for the real story. Every case is a story. We need to know what really happened and why it happened. Jurors will want to know the story and they will want to know you. I have tried hundreds of civil and criminal cases, and represented people in virtually every level of legal proceeding – from simple misdemeanors to complex felony cases, in state and federal courts throughout the United States. My felony experience includes drug charges, sex offenses, aggravated assault and battery, murder, manslaughter, fraud, robbery, theft, and racketeering.
I started my lawyer life in the Army, as a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, assigned to the 4th Infantry Division. I learned early the value of getting the facts right. My cases included murder, espionage and the usual type of criminal charges brought against soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.
Over the past couple years, I have represented two men wrongly accused of committing sexual assault, with the dismissal of all charges in one case and acquittal of the all charges in two others. We approach these types of cases – sexual assault, domestic violence, assault by or on children – with this same underlying premise: every client deserves to be treated with dignity and represented with passion. Being accused is not the same as being convicted.
In Boise, Idaho – where I hang my shingle – I teamed up with Gerry Spence to successfully defend Randy Weaver against charges that he murdered a U.S. Marshall. After Randy was acquitted, we won $3.1 million for Randy’s children, who had lost their mother and brother at Ruby Ridge.
I was lucky enough to join David Nevin, Scott McKay and Dean Arnold in their defense of Sami Omar Al-Hussayen. Sami was charged with providing material support to terrorists in one of the first such cases brought by the United States after the attack on the Twin Towers. Sami was not a terrorist and the jurors set him free.
Gerry’s partner Ed Moriarity and I represented an insurance broker accused of racketeering. There were over 150 predicate acts charged, and our client walked.
I joined with attorney Charles Craft in defense of a 14-year-old kid who was charged with murdering his father. Our client claimed his dad had been sexually abusing him for more than a year. Zachary Neagle ultimately pleaded guilty to manslaughter and underwent treatment in Idaho Juvenile Corrections before he was released. He is an electrician now. Keeping Zach out of adult prison may have been my most important challenge.
A logging truck driver was charged with the death of a man who said he was owed a couple of thousand dollars by our client. My buddy J.D. Merris and I defended the case – ultimately tried to a jury in Idaho City on a manslaughter charge. He was found not guilty based on self-defense. And there have been other murder and manslaughter cases – including death penalty matters, vehicular homicide, and aiding and abetting others who have committed homicide.
My partner (and daughter) Courtney Peterson and I represented Fazliddin Kurbanov in a terrorism trial in federal court a few years back. The case kept us running for the two years it took to prepare and try. A federal jury said FK was guilty of providing material support to terrorists but acquitted him of charges he intended to build explosives and harm Americans. Fighting the feds can be a daunting task. They have unlimited money and investigators and the cases are incredibly tough to win.
Recently we have also tackled cases involving young men with learning disabilities charged with criminal cases in state and federal court. Those cases have required us to learn about Autism Spectrum Disorder and related disabilities, to understand how our clients might, or might not be criminally liable. That work has been eye-opening, as has our work with folks caught up in the opioid crisis.
We are lucky to practice in association with Gerry Spence’s law firm in Jackson, Wyoming. Those lawyers are some of the most committed and brilliant minds in the country, so when we get the chance to spend time and work cases with them, we go to Jackson Hole. Like each of them, I am a graduate of the Trial Lawyers College.
We were co-counsel to Gerry’s firm in the case of rancher Jack Yantis, who was needlessly and wrongfully killed by Adams County Sheriff’s deputies. Our investigation revealed facts that proved Jack’s death was wrongful. The County paid for that one in December. We agreed to keep the amount confidential, but if you search you can find the amount that the County says they paid and reported by the press.
We have also served as local counsel with Spence’s firm and settled or tried actions for wrongful death, denial of civil rights, negligent death skiing cases, automobile negligence, products liability, and carbon-monoxide poisoning.
Not long ago we joined with one of the nation’s premier food-born illness lawyers, Ron Simon. A local business failed to detect e-Coli in food it sold to the public. We had a dozen of those plaintiff cases with Ron and each one settled, providing our clients with money they deserved to put their lives back in shape. Working with Simon was an education in tenacity and preparation. He is one of the best.
We have joined with other lawyers in civil cases, including wrongful death and negligence. I have tried civil cases involving racketeering and fraud, contract disputes, and argued to protect our first amendment rights to speak and worship freely, or not at all.
Here is some of the other stuff about me that you may want to know:
- We defend criminal cases, including racketeering, fraud, murder, drug crimes, sex offenses, and other serious felony cases
- We defend driving under the influence cases (DUI), including those that result in death and serious injury
- We defend persons accused of sexual battery and assault
- We represent plaintiffs in injury, wrongful death, and civil rights cases, and insurance bad faith
- Idaho Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College, 2008
- U.S. Army JAG School, University of Virginia, 1982
- Gonzaga University School of Law; JD (magna cum laude); 1981
- Gonzaga University; BA (Psychology, magna cum laude); 1978
- Idaho State Bar
- Washington State Bar (no longer active)
My work in defense of Randy Weaver in the Ruby Ridge case is discussed in “Every Knee Shall Bow,” by Jess Walter (Regan Books/Harper Collins 1995), and in “Ambush at Ruby Ridge,” by Alan W. Bock (Dickens Press 1995). I received the Clarence Darrow Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho for my work on the defense of Sami Al-Hussayen as well as for our defense Fazliden Kurbanov.
I am listed in The Best Lawyers In America, 2008 – 2023 Editions, and for more than thirty-five years I have received the “Preeminent AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the country’s premier lawyer rating service. Less than 5% of the lawyers in the country have this rating. Best Lawyers In America says our firm rates in the top tier of criminal defense lawyers too. And I am also recognized in Super Lawyers, another premier rating service that limits recognition to less than 5% of the lawyers by practice area.
I am joined in my practice by Attorney Courtney Peterson, my daughter. Courtney adds experience from the dark side – she was a city prosecutor in a former life – and I am glad to have her aboard. In addition to Courtney’s experience in criminal defense, she focusses her practice toward children and juvenile matters.
Finally, we continue to be cared for and directed by Patty Stradley, our paralegal, office manager and director of all that gets done. She is so much more than that! Clients rave about how much she cares for them and their cases. We know that to be true. Patty Stradley is simply the best!