Back in June of 2009, I posted that Zachary Neagle had become a client. He was charged with murder – having shot his father in the head as he was asleep on a couch in their home. The case presented the ultimate challenge; convincing folks that Zach killed his father to protect his younger brother and sister from the sexual assaults he had been subjected to. Zach was charged as an adult, but the picture shows just how juvenile he was, wrapped in chains and clad in a yellow jumpsuit. He was just a kid.

Idaho law provided that if Zach went to trial and lost – a jury not believing he had to kill to protect his siblings – he would serve a life sentence in an adult prison. Ultimately we settled the case for a blended sentence that placed Zach with Idaho Juvenile Corrections. He plead guilty to manslaughter. If he did well in Juvenile Corrections, he had a chance to avoid adult prison and could be placed on adult probation.

As I noted in January of 2011, Zach was working hard in the Juvenile Corrections world to build a life. He was going to school, and working on the skills he would need to re-enter the world. I hoped someday he would leave confinement and be free – at least free of jails, prisons or corrections centers.

August 1st was my birthday, and it was the day Zach ended his time in juvenile corrections and began adult probation as part of his sentence. I would like to report that the transition to real life (albeit on probation) has been seamless, but it has not. It may take some time. He has a good job, has supporters who care and love him, and he has a chance. But he has to work at this. Any mistake could land him in jail or worse, adult prison, the very place we have been trying to avoid since Charles Crafts called me that June day more than five years ago. 

Since so many of you call, ask and write, I wanted to report that he is making it. So far. 

Now he needs to work at staying free. He needs to fly right and stay out of any trouble.

 


Continue Reading Zach Neagle is Free – Now He Must Work to Stay Free

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution provides you with many of your most important tools at trial. It is intended to guarantee a fair trial to every person accused of a crime. Whether you are charged with DUI, a drug crime, a sex offense, fraud, manslaughter or murder, the Sixth Amendment helps us to get you a fair trial.

If you have been charged with a crime, we will be happy to meet with you to explain your Sixth Amendment rights and how they can help us defend you in your particular criminal defense matter.

So what does the Sixth Amendment provide?  It provides you with these essential rights at trial:

You have the right to be tried by an impartial jury.
You must be informed of the nature of the charges against you.
You have the right to confront the witnesses against you.
You have the right to a lawyer.

These basic rights are just the start – for example you don’t want just any lawyer – you want an experienced trial lawyer.

You don’t really want just any jury that might be impartial – you want a lawyer who can use his or her experience to choose jurors most likely to listen to your story, and jurors who will want to help you.

So the Sixth Amendment gives us a framework to defend you, but the key to your defense – your trial and your innocence – is the lawyer you choose.

Before you hire a lawyer who says he or she has the experience you need to face a prosecution – STOP.  Ask that lawyer the five questions we have here.  Then give us a call. For over thirty years we have been providing the best defense in criminal cases in state and federal courts.


Continue Reading Just One Tool – Protecting Your Sixth Amendment Rights

Today’s post is authored by Boise lawyer Courtney Peterson. Courtney’s practice focuses on criminal defense and child custody.

What does it take for your simple assault or battery charge to be elevated to a crime of domestic battery or domestic violence? Not much. An act as simple as grabbing your live-in boyfriend or girlfriend by the wrist might be charged as a domestic violence crime. In Idaho, you don’t have to married to someone to be accused of domestic violence. All it takes is evidence that an alleged victim is a “household member.” Aside from a spouse, “household member” can include a former spouse, a person you have a child with regardless of whether you’ve been married or not, or a person who you cohabitate with. If you’re charged with a domestic battery or assault, not only could you be spending more time in jail, but you run the risk of being charged with a felony if this isn’t your first offense. A first offense domestic violence charge, whether a battery or assault, carries up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. A second charge within 10 years has a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail and a $2,000 fine. If you’re charged with a third within 15 years, that’s a felony. You face up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. 

Domestic violence allegations are always treated differently than the average battery or assault. Alleged victims are generally taken at their word, often not interviewed to the extent that an alleged aggressor is. Police automatically assume you’re guilty and will treat you as such. They might cut corners in investigating the incident and you might never get to tell your side of the story. Once you’re charged with a domestic violence act, a judge will immediately issue a No Contact Order against you to protect the alleged victim. Until you get a chance to be heard by the judge, these orders generally prohibit any contact whatsoever. You will likely have to move out of your home until the order is terminated and might be prohibited from seeing your children for a while. 

Police and prosecutors take this charge seriously, and so should you. This is not something you want to fight on your own. You need an attorney with experience who can tell your story. If you’ve been charged, give us a call.

 


Continue Reading Domestic Battery or Domestic Violence in Idaho – Prosecutors In Ada and Canyon County Treat These As Very Serious

 

A change to Idaho Misdemeanor Rule 5(b) now requires that anyone charged with either an excessive DUI (BAC over .2) or a second DUI offense appear for arraignment in person within 48 hours. This rule now requires a personal appearance, the filing of a notice of appearance by your lawyer will not do.

What is behind this rule change? There is no statute in Idaho that requires a personal appearance for a second DUI offense. More importantly, the rule change is said to have occurred because prosecutors on the Misdemeanor and Infraction Rules Committee complained that persons charged with their second DUIs were getting another DUI before the second had been adjudicated. 

Does this ever happen? Probably. Does it happen often? I don’t think so. Then what is the practical effect of the rule change? 

Prosecutors now routinely ask the judge to add a condition to pretrial release: alcohol monitoring.

Say that you have a second DUI and post a $1000 bond. At the arraignment, the Judge will consider the request and decide whether to add this condition (or any other condition) to your release. If added, you will have to pay the cost of the SCRAM device – which monitors for alcohol use. If you cannot pay the SCRAM cost, you cannot stay out on bail. 

Look – a DUI can ruin your day. A second DUI or an excessive DUI has even more serious consequences – including that one year drivers license suspension the will not allow you to drive anywhere, not even to work. But adding alcohol monitoring as a condition of release simply makes it more likely that defendants will not be able to stay bonded out and employed.

As I said, the prosecutor will ask the judge to add this condition to your release. The judge may deny that request and order that you abstain from using alcohol instead. Magistrate judges in Ada County do a pretty good job of making their own decisions about what it will take to cause a defendant to comply with the conditions of release. But be careful if you are headed to that arraignment. Be prepared to tell the court why the alcohol monitoring is not needed in your case.

Facing a DUI or other criminal case in Idaho? Call us for a free consultation to protect your rights.

 


Continue Reading Attention Anyone Charged With A Second DUI or An Excessive DUI – Your Bond May Be In Jeopardy!