Prosecuting Attorney Office Overview
Article V, Section 18 of the Idaho Constitution creates the office of the county prosecuting attorney. The Idaho Constitution requires that the prosecuting attorney be a practicing attorney and a resident and elector of the county for which they are elected. It also states that the prosecuting attorney shall perform all duties prescribed by law and receive such compensation for services as shall be fixed by law.
Article XVIII, Section 6 of the Idaho Constitution empowers the county commissioners to appoint such deputies and clerical assistants as the business of the prosecuting attorney may require.
The primary statutes relating to the office of the county prosecuting attorney are set forth in Title 31, Chapter 26 of the Idaho Code. The title of each of the statutes in that chapter is set forth below. You can read each of the statutes by clicking on the number that corresponds to the statute title.
31-2602 DEPUTY PROSECUTING ATTORNEYS — APPOINTMENT, SALARY, AND QUALIFICATIONS.
31-2603 SPECIAL PROSECUTOR — APPOINTMENT.
31-2604 DUTIES OF PROSECUTING ATTORNEY.
31-2605 RECEIPTS FOR MONEY COLLECTED.
31-2607 ADVISER OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS.
31-2608 COUNTY STENOGRAPHERS — COMPENSATION.
31-2609 COUNTY STENOGRAPHERS — DUTIES.
31-2610 COUNTY STENOGRAPHERS — TRAVELING EXPENSES.
31-2611 PROSECUTING ATTORNEY’S CONTINGENT FUND — APPROPRIATION BY COMMISSIONERS.
31-2612 CONTINGENT FUND — APPROVAL OF DISTRICT COURT.
31-2613 CONTINGENT FUND — MANNER OF DISBURSEMENT.
31-2614 CONTINGENT FUND — UNEXPENDED BALANCE.
The most significant of the duties set forth in these statutes are to prosecute and defend civil proceedings in which the people of the state of Idaho or the county have an interest or are a party, to prosecute all felony actions (irrespective of whom the arresting officer is) and all misdemeanor and infraction actions when the arresting or charging officer is a county or state employee, and to give advice to the board of county commissioners and other officers of the county.
Throughout the Idaho Code, there are statutes that specifically designate the county prosecuting attorney as the public official responsible for enforcing the provisions of the statute. It would be impractical to list all of these statutes on this web site. However, the statutory schemes that the county prosecuting attorney is most commonly asked to enforce are mentioned in more detail, including reference to the statutes, at other places on this web site.
Prosecuting attorneys are the only attorneys that have a legal obligation to protect the rights of the other party, namely criminal defendants. This does not mean that the prosecutor must advocate for the defendant. To the contrary, the prosecutor should be a zealous advocate for justice, the victim, the people of the state of Idaho, and their community. The special ethical obligation of the prosecuting attorney is assure that the defendant’s due process rights are protected.
Prosecuting attorneys are bound by the same ethical rules as other attorneys. These are found in the Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule 3.8 sets out the special responsibilities of prosecutors.
The salary and expense budgets of the prosecuting attorney’s office are set by the county commissioners. Article XVIII, Section 7 of the Idaho Constitution states that the prosecuting attorney’s salary shall receive a fixed annual salary to be set by the county commissioners. Article XVIII, Section 6 of the Idaho Constitution places in the county commissioners the power to fix the compensation to be received by appointed deputies and clerical assistants. The prosecuting attorney submits a proposed budget to the county commissioners, who then review the budget request and meet with the county prosecutor prior to setting the budget for the prosecutor’s office.
- Case load assignments are based on different legal areas handled by the prosecuting attorney’s office. These areas are:
- Felony violent crimes against people (e.g., homicides, aggravated battery, etc.)
- Domestic Violence cases
- Felony crimes against children (sexual and physical abuse of children)
- Felony traffic offenses
- Juvenile offenders
- Infractions offenses
- Post-Conviction Relief proceedings
- Mental commitment proceedings
- Child Protective Act proceedings
- Civil litigation involving the County
- Administrative advising
You can view information about each of the staff members of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office by clicking this Office Staff link.