When is an Idaho conviction not really a conviction? This occurs when the defendant pleads guilty and receives a “Withheld Judgment.” When this occurs, the court withholds entering a formal judgment of conviction. The defendant, who may or may not be ordered to serve jail time, is ordered to satisfy certain conditions and complete a period of probationary good conduct. This can include evaluation and treatment for substance abuse.
If all the conditions are satisfied, and the defendant completes the period of time without committing any other crimes, there is no record of conviction. The effect of a Withheld Judgment is to permit the defendant to avoid the stigma of a conviction if the defendant complies with the terms of probation
In misdemeanor cases, the Court Rules require the judge to consider the following factors in deciding whether to grant a Withheld Judgment to a defendant pleading guilty:
(1) All the facts and circumstances surrounding the offense with which the defendant is charged; and,
(2) Whether the defendant is a first offender; and,
(3) The previous actions and character of the defendant; and,
(4) Whether the defendant might reasonably be expected to be rehabilitated; and,
(5) Whether it reasonably appears that the defendant will abide by the terms of the probation; and,
(6) The interests of society in being protected from possible future criminal conduct of the defendant; and,
(7) The impact a record of a criminal conviction would have upon the defendant’s future development and/or employment status.
Withheld judgments can also be granted in felony cases (except murder), although certain restrictions apply to some drug crimes.
An experienced criminal defense attorney should always consider the possibility of asking the court for a Withheld Judgment in cases where a conviction is likely.