Juvenile Indigent Defense Delivery System
Idaho provides counsel to indigent youth through a county-based system which includes public defenders—either through a county office, a joint office of more than one county, or contracting with an existing office—and contract attorneys. Idaho Code Ann. § 19-859.
Counties are empowered to establish specialized juvenile public defender offices. Idaho Code Ann. § 19-860. However, Idaho’s statewide appellate defender is not authorized to handle appeals from delinquency adjudications. Idaho Code Ann. § 19-870.
Idaho has no statutorily required or recommended training requirements or standards for attorneys representing youth in delinquency proceedings.
Idaho’s indigent defense system is mostly county funded. Counsel appointed for juveniles are to be reimbursed by county. Idaho Code Ann. § 20-514(4).
In addition to statutes and case law, juvenile court proceedings are governed by court rules. These are often promulgated at the state level, but may also be passed at the local court level instead of or in addition to statewide rules. Idaho’s Juvenile Rules govern procedures in district and magistrate courts in all actions under the Juvenile Corrections Act (governing delinquency) and the Child Protection Act (governing abuse and neglect).
Right to Counsel
Beyond the right to counsel in juvenile court guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution and In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967), states often have state constitution or statutory provisions further expanding upon on or delineating that right.
A youth shall be notified of his or her right to counsel “as early as possible in the proceedings, and in any event before the hearing of the petition on the merits….” Idaho Code Ann. § 20-514(4)
Youth have the same right to be represented by counsel as adults, including representation at probation revocation, recommitment, appeal and in any post-adjudication or review proceeding, unless the court considers counsel at such proceeding to be a frivolous one. Idaho Code Ann. § 20-514(2).
Determination of Indigence
Idaho has no presumption of indigence in juvenile court proceedings. Indigence need not be determined prior to an accused person’s first court appearance. Idaho Code Ann. § 19-854(1). Indigence is determined by the presiding court based on factors such as income, property, debts, and dependents. Persons who fall into certain categories, such as those who receive public assistance, are presumed indigent until a contrary determination is made. Idaho Code Ann. § 19-854.
“When it appears to the court that the juvenile or his parents or guardian desire counsel but are financially unable to pay for such legal services, the court shall appoint counsel to represent the juvenile and his parents or guardian….” Idaho Code Ann. § 20-514(1). If the court finds there is a conflict of interest between the youth and his or her parents or guardian, the court shall appoint separate counsel for the juvenile, regardless of the parents’s or guardian’s ability to pay, unless the youth waives counsel and the court “determines that the best interest of the juvenile does not require the appointment of counsel.” Idaho Code Ann. § 20-514(1).
The person liable for the support of a juvenile is “required by the court to reimburse the county for all or a portion of the cost of those legal services” provided to the juvenile by counsel, unless the court finds the adult to be indigent and that the requirement would pose a manifest hardship. Idaho Code Ann. § 20-514(7).
Waiver of Counsel
“Any waiver of the right to counsel by a juvenile…shall be made in writing, on the record and upon a finding by the court that: (a) The juvenile has been informed of the right to counsel and the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation; and (b) The waiver is intelligently made after consideration of the totality of the circumstances including, but not limited to: (i) The age, maturity, intelligence, education, competency and comprehension of the juvenile; (ii) The presence of the juvenile’s parents or guardian; (iii) The seriousness of the offense; (iv) The collateral consequences of adjudication of the offense; and (v) Whether the interests of the juvenile and his parents or guardian conflict.” Idaho Code Ann. § 20-514(5).
Juveniles cannot waive their right to counsel in these circumstances:The juvenile is under 14; Idaho Code Ann. § 20-514(6)(a)
- “In sentencing proceedings in which it has been recommended that the juvenile be committed to the legal custody of the department of juvenile corrections;” Idaho Code Ann. § 20-514(6)(b)
- “In proceedings in which the juvenile is being adjudicated for commission of a crime of a sexual nature;” Idaho Code Ann. § 20-514(6)(c)
- “In proceedings in which the juvenile is being adjudicated for commission of a felony;” Idaho Code Ann. § 20-514(6)(d)
- “In hearings upon a motion to waive jurisdiction under the juvenile corrections act pursuant to [§] 20-508;” Idaho Code Ann. § 20-514(6)(e).
- “In hearings upon a motion to examine the juvenile to determine if he is competent to proceed pursuant to [§] 20-519A;” Idaho Code Ann. § 20-514(6)(f).
- “In recommitment proceedings.” Idaho Code Ann. § 20-514(6)(g).
When and how the court may decide to detain a child or otherwise place restrictions on the child’s freedom is defined by statute and court rules. In Idaho, if a juvenile is not released to a parent or responsible adult, a detention hearing must be held within 24 hours of the preliminary decision to detain following apprehension, excluding weekends and holidays. Idaho Juv. R. 7(c).
Provisions for the detention of juveniles are found in Idaho Code Ann. §§ 20-514, 20-516, 20-517, and 20-518, and in Idaho Juv. R. 7-9 and 11.
The U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court case law are also sources of due process rights beyond local and state statutes and provisions. NJDC’s Detention Page provides more information about detaining youth.
The legal needs of children in the delinquency system rarely end at disposition, and states vary in the way they provide a right to representation on these post-disposition issues. Idaho law states that children have the right to counsel at all post-disposition proceedings that the court determines not to be frivolous. Idaho Code Ann. § 20-514(2).
In Idaho, youth have a right to counsel in the following post-disposition proceedings:
- Probation revocation;
- Any post-adjudication or review proceeding, unless the court considers counsel at such proceeding to be a frivolous one.
Idaho Code Ann. § 20-514(2).
NJDC’s Post-Disposition Page has more information on this topic from a national perspective.
Ages of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction
The age of a child who comes within the jurisdiction of the state’s juvenile courts is defined by state law. In Idaho:
- No statute specifies the youngest age at which a juvenile can be adjudicated delinquent;
- Juvenile court has jurisdiction over offenses alleged to have been committed prior to a child’s 18th birthday; after age 18, the youth is charged in adult court, Idaho Code Ann. § 20-502(13);
- Juvenile court can retain jurisdiction over youth until age 21, provided that the offense alleged to have been committed occurred before the youth turned 18. Idaho Code Ann. § 20-507.
Youth in Adult Court
Despite the existence of juvenile courts, many youth are still tried as adults. Idaho has two ways that juveniles can be prosecuted as adults:
- Discretionary Transfer: Juvenile Court may waive its jurisdiction upon its own motion, that of juvenile, or that of prosecution, after a hearing, where any juvenile is alleged to have committed any of the serious crimes enumerated in section 20-509, Idaho Code; or for any juvenile 14 or older who is alleged to have committed an act which would be a crime if committed by an adult. Idaho Code Ann. § 20-508(1), (2).
- Once (convicted as) an Adult, Always an Adult. Idaho Code Ann. § 20-509(3).
NJDC conducts statewide assessments of access to counsel and the quality of juvenile defense representation in delinquency proceedings around the country. These assessments provide a state with baseline information about the nature and efficacy of its juvenile indigent defense structures, highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the indigent juvenile defense system, and provide tailored recommendations that address each state’s distinctive characteristics to help decision-makers focus on key trouble spots and highlight best practices. The NJDC State Assessment Page provides more information about state assessments.
NJDC has not yet conducted an assessment of the juvenile indigent defense system in Idaho. If you would like to collaborate with NJDC to fundraise for, plan, or engage in an assessment in this state, please contact us.