Over the past decade, Idaho has become increasingly popular. While many people come here to visit and enjoy the state, many others just pass through. Although people don't typically come here intending to commit a crime, non-residents are commonly charged with crimes in Idaho and must return to their home state to pick up the pieces and figure out how to handle the incident from afar.
Misdemeanors and Felonies
Whether or not a defendant must return to Idaho to appear in court depends on the severity of the crime committed.
If the charges only include misdemeanors, it's possible that the defendant may not need to come back to Idaho to handle the charges. Depending on the case, they may be able to hire a private attorney to attend court in their place. However, in order to do this, the attorney will generally need the written consent of the defendant and permission from the court. And even if the defendant's presence can be excused, it can sometimes be strategic to appear in court. It can demonstrate to the court that they're taking the situation seriously, which could positively impact the sentence they receive.
On the other hand, if the charges include a felony, the defendant's presence will be required. If the defendant is held in custody through the entirety of the case, then they will be transported to each hearing. But if the defendant is able to post bail, they'll be allowed to leave Idaho with the assurance that they'll return for their court date. If they appear for their court date, the bail will be refunded. If they fail to appear in court, then the court will keep the bail money, a bench warrant for their arrest will be issued, and they will be charged with failure to appear in addition to their outstanding charges.
How to go about handling the charges
If you're a non-resident charged with a crime in Idaho, the first step is to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who practices in the county where you have been charged. They'll know the best way to go about handling the case and can help you navigate through the court system from afar.
The worst thing you can do is ignore the charges and hope that they'll go away. They won't. Ignoring criminal charges will ultimately not turn out to be in your best interest. If you fail to appear in court without the court's permission, a bench warrant for your arrest will be issued. This complicates the underlying case and will cost you more time and money in the long run.