Public Defender
Bannock County Public Defender in Pocatello Idaho

Frequently Asked Questions


  1. If the police contact me, do I have to speak with them?
  2. What should I do if the police want to search me or my belongings?
  3. What should I do if a family member or friend is arrested?
  4. How do the lawyers in the Public Defender’s Office stack up against private attorneys?
  5. Will a public defender fight for me?
  6. How do I retain the services of a Public Defender?
  7. How do I get a public defender to represent me if I’m in custody after I’m arrested?
  8. What happens if I’m in custody and the police want to talk to me or to place me in a lineup?
  9. How do I contact my public defender?
  10. Why are lawyers made available from the Public Defender’s Office?
  11. If I forget the name of my public defender, how can I find out who is representing me?
  12. If I forget my court date, how do I find out when it is?
  13. Can the Public Defenders answer “quick” legal questions?
  14. Do the Public Defenders handle matters other than criminal cases?
  15. Can we recommend an attorney?
  16. If I forget where the court is located, how can I find out where I’m supposed to appear?
  17. What is Bail?
  18. What is an “O.R.”?
  19. When will the judge set bail and/or consider an O.R. release?
  20. What is a “plea bargain”?
  21. If I get convicted after a misdemeanor or felony trial, can I appeal?
  22. How do I find out if there is a bench warrant for my arrest?
  23. Will the Public Defender’s Office represent me if I am a citizen of another country?
  24. If my English is limited, can I get an interpreter to assist me?
  25. Will what I say to a Public Defender Investigator be kept confidential?
  26. Will the Public Defender represent me in a civil case?
  27. How can I contact someone who is incarcerated in Bannock County?
  28. Can I still vote if I have a criminal conviction?

1.    If the police contact me, do I have to speak with them?

No. If you are questioned by law enforcement, it is essential to keep in mind the Miranda warnings: “You have the right to remain silent; anything you say can and may be used against you in court; you have the right to an attorney before and during any questioning; if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to assist you.”

State clearly that you wish to have an attorney present before and during any questioning. If law enforcement continues to question you after you have requested an attorney, repeat your request for an attorney and otherwise remain silent.

BACK TO TOP


2.     What should I do if the police want to search me or my belongings?

Law enforcement is under no duty to advise you of your rights in order to search you or your property. Nevertheless, law enforcement can only search you or your property under certain circumstances. While you do have the right to refuse to be searched or have your property searched, there are situations where law enforcement can search you or your property without your consent. If you do not consent to being searched by law enforcement, you should clearly tell the police that you do not want to be searched. If law enforcement has a search warrant, ask for a copy of the warrant.

BACK TO TOP


3.     What should I do if a family member or friend is arrested?

If a friend or family member is in jail, and you are trying to get helpful information, the most important thing you can tell your friend or family member is:

While you are in jail, DO NOT discuss the facts of your case with anyone. Do not talk with the police. Do not talk with other inmates. Do not talk to your friends or family over the phone about the facts of the case. Wait until you meet your lawyer to talk about the facts of your case because only conversations between you and your lawyer are protected by attorney-client privilege and are confidential, and only your lawyer will be able to give you accurate, reliable advice about how to proceed with your case.

**********************************************************************************************************
REMEMBER THAT ALL OTHER CONVERSATIONS WITH AN INMATE AT BANNOCK COUNTY JAIL (WHETHER BY PHONE OR IN PERSON) ARE RECORDED. DO NOT EVER SPEAK WITH AN INMATE ABOUT ANYTHING HAVING TO DO WITH THEIR CASE!
**********************************************************************************************************

BACK TO TOP


4.     How do the lawyers in the Public Defender’s Office stack up against private attorneys?

In order to become a public defender in Bannock County Public Defenders Office, a lawyer must already have passed the Idaho State Bar examination and then pass through a rigorous interview to ensure that the person has the intellectual ability, legal knowledge, and commitment to practice criminal defense law.  The lawyers in our office work as a team to pool and draw from the experience and expertise of each individual member. With the combined skills and talents of the Public Defenders and their deeply dedicated and extremely knowledgeable support staff our office has an enormous reserve of resources that are not always available to sole practitioners or small law firms. In addition, Public Defenders specialize exclusively in the practice of criminal law

BACK TO TOP


5.     Will a public defender fight for me?

Tirelessly, fearlessly, and with compassion! The primary responsibility of the Office of the Bannock County Public Defender is to provide vigorous legal representation to all appointed clients who have been accused of criminal misconduct but are currently unable to afford to hire private defense counsel. Our clients are the first and primary concern of the lawyers in our office. We are committed to ensuring that our clients are treated fairly and their rights protected throughout the entirety of the justice process.

BACK TO TOP


6.     How do I retain the services of a Public Defender?

If a person is charged with a crime that holds the possibility of being punishable by jail time or of impacting a significant right AND is determined by the courts to be financially unable to retain a private attorney, the courts will appoint the Bannock County Public Defender’s Office as the legal representative. This appointment usually happens at the first court appearance which is called an initial appearance in Felony cases and Arraignment in Misdemeanor cases.

In the case of a conflict of interest, the courts may appoint a “Conflict Attorney” to represent the accused rather than the Bannock County Public Defender.

BACK TO TOP


7.     How do I get a public defender to represent me if I’m in custody after I’m arrested?

If you are in custody, usually within two court days of your arrest you will be brought to a local court for your arraignment. At this court date, tell the judge that you want a public defender to represent you. At arraignment you will fill out paperwork to determine that you are financially eligible to be represented by the Public Defender. If you are, an attorney will be appointed to you. Our office will receive your file from the courts and  will assign you a Public Defender within 1 to 2 weeks of your arraignment.

BACK TO TOP


8.     What happens if I’m in custody and the police want to talk to me or to place me in a lineup?

Ask to have a lawyer represent you. Before being questioned regarding a crime, the police must inform you that you have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Likewise, if the police want to place you in a lineup, you have the right to have an attorney present at the lineup. The Office of the Public Defender has attorneys on call to serve these functions. A public defender who goes to the police station or jail serves as your attorney in the same way as if you had retained the attorney to represent you. The attorney represents you, not the police.

BACK TO TOP


9.     How do I contact my public defender?

Call our office and a receptionist will connect you to your lawyer’s office. All public defenders have voice mail, so you can leave a message. Anytime you have to leave a telephone message for your attorney, always remember to speak slowly and clearly. Leave your complete name, your case number if you know it, your next court date, a telephone number, and the best time for your attorney to contact you. If you are incarcerated you may contact your attorney by mail. The jail staff will forward letters to our office.

BACK TO TOP


10. Why are lawyers made available from the Public Defender’s Office?

Under the United States Constitution we have an adversarial justice system. This means that one lawyer represents the State, another represents the accused. A fair adversarial system requires that the accused and the prosecution have attorneys with equal resources available to them in order to achieve both truth and justice in the courts. Accordingly, under the law as set forth in the United States Constitution, anyone charged with any serious criminal offense in the United States is entitled to have a lawyer representing him whether that person can afford a lawyer or not. A public defender’s sole job is to provide the best defense available to any person he represents that is accused of a serious crime.

BACK TO TOP


11. If I forget the name of my public defender, how can I find out who is representing me?

Call the Public Defender’s Office where your case is pending. Provide the receptionist with your case number, or — if you can’t remember the number — provide your full name and date of birth. Ordinarily, that information will be enough to help our staff determine the name of your attorney.

BACK TO TOP


12. If I forget my court date, how do I find out when it is?

Call the Public Defender’s Office immediately! If you don’t know your next court date, don’t put off calling to find out. Missing a court date can result in the judge taking you into custody when you do show up or a warrant being issued for your arrest. If is not necessary to speak directly with your attorney to obtain this information. Please call our office at (208) 236-7048 and any one of our secretaries will be happy to look up this information that is easily accessible to the public on the Idaho Repository.

BACK TO TOP


13. Can the Public Defenders answer “quick” legal questions?

Unless you are a client we cannot give legal advice or answer legal questions. If you plan to proceed with your case without an attorney, the Law Library has the reference material to assist you. The Arthur P. Oliver Law Library at Idaho State University is open to anyone who wishes to use the legal resources housed there. It is located at the Idaho State University’s Oboler Library, phone number (208) 282-2958.

BACK TO TOP


14. Do the Public Defenders handle matters other than criminal cases?

By statute, the Public Defender’s Office may only handle criminal and juvenile delinquency cases that have the possibility of being punishable by jail time or impacting a significant right . For civil matters, please contact Idaho Legal Aid at 208-233-0079, or Idaho State Bar Lawyer Referral Service at (208) 334-4500.

Additional resources are:

Idaho Court Assistance Office & Self-Help Center    

What kind of information will I find here?

  • Free court-approved forms for civil court matters (non-criminal), such as family-related issues, landlord/tenant, domestic violence, etc.
  • Videos and brochures to help you become informed about your legal situation
  • Helpful links to other legal resources, organizations, and advocates
  • Contact information for your local court assistance office

BACK TO TOP


15. Can we recommend an attorney?

We cannot recommend an attorney. However, if you would like assistance in obtaining an attorney, the Idaho State Bar Lawyer Referral Service provides referral assistance.
 Call (208) 334-4500.

BACK TO TOP


16. If I forget where the court is located, how can I find out where I’m supposed to appear?

Call the Public Defender’s Office immediately! Give your name and case number to the receptionist and, in most circumstances, our staff will be able to tell you the precise location of your particular court and give you directions how to get there.

BACK TO TOP


17. What is Bail?

“Bail” is the amount of money that a defendant (or typically someone on his/her behalf) must pay in order to be released from jail. It is intended to assure the court that the defendant will appear at his/her future court dates.

BACK TO TOP


18. What is an “O.R.”?

Being released on an “O.R.” means being released on one’s own recognizance, that is on one’s promise to appear in the future without having to post bail. If you are released on an O.R., the judge may impose conditions of your release.

BACK TO TOP


19. When will the judge set bail and/or consider an O.R. release?

If you are in custody at your arraignment the judge will set the bail amount according to the County’s bail schedule and in light of the circumstances of your background and the conduct with which you are charged. When you appear with your public defender after arraignment, you are entitled to ask the court to lower the previously set bail amount and/or to release you on your own recognizance. Your lawyer will discuss this with you.

BACK TO TOP


20. What is a “plea bargain”?

Prior to the trial of your case, the District Attorney will meet with your public defender and offer a “plea bargain” to resolve your case without a trial. This often means pleading guilty or no contest to fewer or less serious charges than those pending against you for an agreed upon sentence. The decision to accept a pretrial offer or go to trial is perhaps the weightiest decision a defendant can make in a criminal case. The Office of the Public Defender is committed to offering you all the information, advice and counsel we can to help you make the best decision you can. In the end, the decision to accept an offer and end your case without a trial or to fight your case at trial is YOURS and YOURS alone. It is important to remember that all public defenders are experienced, skilled and effective trial lawyers. If you wish to go to trial, you can be sure that you will get vigorous representation from a dedicated advocate.

BACK TO TOP


21. If I get convicted after a misdemeanor or felony trial, can I appeal?

Yes. Defendants who have been convicted after a misdemeanor or felony trial have the right to appeal their conviction. This process is started by the trial attorney who, upon request of the client, will file a notice of appeal in the trial. A lawyer who specializes in appeals will then be appointed to represent you in your appeal. These lawyers are not employees of the Public Defender’s Office. However, your public defender will provide your appellate lawyer with all the information she needs to help you win your appeal.

BACK TO TOP


22. How do I find out if there is a bench warrant for my arrest?

If you are already represented by a public defender on the case, call the Public Defender’s Office where your case is pending and give the receptionist your case number, or your full name and date of birth. That information will be enough to determine whether there is a warrant for your arrest. Arrangements can then be made through your attorney to accompany you to court to deal with the warrant. It is better to work with your attorney to deal with a bench warrant than to ignore the warrant and take your chances on being arrested and jailed.

If you have not yet been to court on the case and therefore do not have a lawyer, call the Public Defender’s Office and make an appointment to come in and speak with a lawyer about your situation.

In either case, you need to speak with a public defender and make arrangements to go to court to deal with the warrant. It is far better to do that than to take chances on being arrested on the warrant and then jailed. It would also be helpful to be able to explain why you failed to appear in court. If there is any written record (such as a letter from your doctor or your employer) which may help to explain your absence, the judge might consider giving you another chance rather than putting you into custody.

BACK TO TOP


23. Will the Public Defender’s Office represent me if I am a citizen of another country?

Absolutely! The Office of the Public Defender is available to represent you, in your criminal case, regardless of your citizenship status. The Office of the Public Defender will also provide you with accurate information regarding the possible immigration consequences to any potential resolution of your case.

BACK TO TOP


24. If my English is limited, can I get an interpreter to assist me?

Yes, whenever necessary, your public defender will obtain the assistance of an interpreter. An interpreter will be made available for interviews, consultations, and court proceedings. In court, an official court interpreter will be obtained for whichever language or dialect is needed for you to be able to clearly communicate and understand everything that is going on in your case.

BACK TO TOP


25. Will what I say to a Public Defender Investigator be kept confidential?

The attorney-client privilege concerns the confidential communication between lawyer and client which cannot be disclosed to anyone without the consent of the client. This same privilege extends to ALL employees of the Public Defender’s Office, including investigators.

***********************************************************************************************************
REMEMBER THAT ALL OTHER CONVERSATIONS WITH AN INMATE AT BANNOCK COUNTY JAIL (WHETHER BY PHONE OR IN PERSON) ARE RECORDED.

DO NOT EVER SPEAK WITH AN INMATE ABOUT ANYTHING HAVING TO DO WITH THEIR CASE! **********************************************************************************************************

BACK TO TOP


26. Will the Public Defender represent me in a civil case?

By statute, the Public Defender’s Office may handle only certain types of civil issues, so generally the answer is no. For civil matters, please contact Idaho Legal Aid at 208-233-0079, or Idaho State Bar Lawyer Referral Service at (208) 334-4500.

Additional resources are:

Idaho Court Assistance Office & Self-Help Center  

What kind of information will I find here?

  • Free court-approved forms for civil court matters (non-criminal), such as family-related issues, landlord/tenant, domestic violence, etc.
  • Videos and brochures to help you become informed about your legal situation
  • Helpful links to other legal resources, organizations, and advocates
  • Contact information for your local court assistance office

BACK TO TOP


27. How can I contact someone who is incarcerated in Bannock County Jail?

If a friend or family member is incarcerated at Bannock County Jail, and you wish to visit them, send them money, enable them to call you, or correspond with them, you should click on the following link:  https://www.bannockcounty.us/sheriff/jail/

***********************************************************************************************************
REMEMBER THAT ALL OTHER CONVERSATIONS WITH AN INMATE AT BANNOCK COUNTY JAIL (WHETHER BY PHONE OR IN PERSON) ARE RECORDED.

DO NOT EVER SPEAK WITH AN INMATE ABOUT ANYTHING HAVING TO DO WITH THEIR CASE!
**********************************************************************************************************

BACK TO TOP


28. Can I still vote if I have a criminal conviction?

Yes, if you have a misdemeanor conviction, you can still vote. A misdemeanor does not affect your right to vote. A felon will have the right to vote reinstated after completion of probation, parole, or the ordered sentence.

BACK TO TOP


29. How can I have my gun rights reinstated?

This can be a very complicated question and requires the careful evaluation of your attorney.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email