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Crime Rates in Pocatello and Bannock County

Crime statistics can be tricky to understand. Police departments self report to the FBI and state agencies in often unclear and ill-defined ways. The local news regurgitates these reports without offering any meaningful analysis or context and your real estate agent downplays any bad facts. For example, the FBI uses a term called “violent crime” that includes murder, manslaughter, rape, and aggravated assault while excluding many crimes that most people would consider violent. A thorough understanding of local crime data is key for any attorney. Being able to place a specific crime in context and judge the local community’s familiarity with specific types of crime leads to a better understanding of potential jurors and thus, better outcomes for clients. Pocatello and Bannock County both have a higher rate of crime than similarly sized cities and counties in the area and some of the highest crime rates in Idaho. If you have been charged with a crime in Pocatello, Idaho. The criminal defense lawyers at Racine Olson, PLLP can walk you through every element, and help you prepare the best defense possible.

How to Read Crime Rates

Crime rates are generally reported as a number of crimes per 100,000 people and that can make looking at a city like Pocatello, which has a population of about 56,266 according to the US Census Bureau, a bit confusing. Further confusing things is the use of arbitrary categories by various law enforcement agencies. The FBI reports cover what they call violent crime while Idaho State Police reports split crime in A and B categories and local police departments report based on agency instead of location. For example, the Bannock County Sheriff can make an arrest within the city limits of Pocatello, but that arrest does not show up on the Pocatello police report. Saying exactly how many crimes happened within the city of Pocatello is impossible with the currently available data.

Even more confusing is the fact that police departments report crimes based on their own categories and not the Idaho Criminal Code. For example, the Pocatello City Police had 175 reported cases of aggravated assault in 2018. What the police call aggravated assault is actually two crimes - aggravated assault (I.C. § 18-905), and aggravated battery (I.C. § 18-907).

How We Use the Data

Despite the confusing reports, a criminal defense attorney serving Pocatello can use this information. In general, jurors from neighborhoods with higher rates of crime tend to be more sympathetic to criminal defendants. This may seem a little counterintuitive, but, in general, those people are more likely to know someone who has been accused of crime, and who has had their life turned upside-down by criminal charges. They may know someone who they think has been treated unfairly by the criminal justice system. By contrast, someone who has never come into contact with a criminal defendant may be extremely biased. They may assume that every criminal defendant is the shadowy figure they see depicted on television police dramas, that the police never lie, or that the defendant is usually guilty – none of which are true in real life. A criminal defense attorney in Pocatello can use this information to help make an educated guess as to what kind of jury a defendant will get. Given the relatively high rate of crime in Pocatello, we can make some assumptions about potential jurors. This doesn’t necessarily hold true for the rest of Bannock County, as there is a relatively low rate of crime in the outside of the city. This data, along with other information, will help to determine what the best way to handle a given case will be.

Another good use for this data is to combat the use of the phrase “high crime area” by police during motions to suppress evidence. Many police officers like to describe an incident as happening in a high crime area as a way to help establish reasonable suspicion for a stop. Courts have consistently said that “mere presence in a high crime area is not enough to support a reasonable, articulable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot.” State v. Zuniga, 143 Idaho 431, 435, 146 P.3d 697, 701 (Ct. App. 2006) (citing Illinois v. Wardlow, 528 U.S. 119, 124 (2000)). However, courts also have said that presence in a high crime area can be a factor in determining reasonable suspicion. State v. Bishop, 146 Idaho 804, 819, 203 P.3d 1203, 1218 (2009) (internal citations omitted).

In practice, this means that when police make a stop, they often sight being in a high crime area as a factor in their reasonable suspicion determination. For an attorney, knowing where these high crime areas actually are can help combat the over use of the phrase high crime area in reasonable suspicion determinations. Winning a motion on reasonable suspicion can mean getting all of the evidence thrown out and winning the case.

Contact Us

The knowledgeable, experienced, and diligent attorneys at Racine Olson, PLLP are here to help you and your family when you need it the most. Whether a misdemeanor or felony, our Idaho criminal defense attorneys are prepared to guide you through the legal process and fight for you at every turn. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation with the Racine Olson, PLLP team of criminal defense attorneys. You can also email Richard Blok directly at richard@racineolson.com. We stand ready to answer your questions and help solve your criminal defense needs.

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