State ordered to pay more than $319,000 to wrongfully incarcerated Idaho man

On Tuesday, Fourth Judicial District Judge Peter Barton granted Joseph LaCroix his certificate of innocence

By: - September 8, 2023 12:44 pm
scales of justice

The state of Idaho must pay more than $319,000 to an innocent man, Joseph LaCroix, who was wrongfully incarcerated for five years and nine months. (Getty Images)

This story was first published on Idaho Reports on Sept. 8, 2023.

The state of Idaho must pay more than $319,000 to an innocent man who was wrongfully incarcerated for five years and nine months.

The funding is made possible through the Wrongful Conviction Act, which the Legislature passed in 2021. Compensation only goes to people who were incarcerated and later are found factually innocent.

Joseph LaCroix was wrongfully convicted on Oct. 3, 2017, in Bonneville County of failing to register as a sex offender, a felony crime. On March 8, the District Court found that LaCroix was innocent, vacated his conviction and dismissed the case.

On Tuesday, Fourth Judicial District Judge Peter Barton granted LaCroix his certificate of innocence.

Barton wrote that pursuant to Idaho code, LaCroix is entitled to $319,297.74 under the Wrongful Conviction Act. He’s also entitled to $3,298 in reasonable attorney fees. Additionally, the Idaho Department of Correction shall determine within its discretion what reentry services it could provide to LaCroix for up to 30 days of transitional housing.

Judge rules LaCroix should have never been required to register as a sex offender

Seventh Judicial District Judge Michael Whyte wrote in an order to vacate the conviction on March 24 that while LaCroix was convicted as a juvenile in Oregon of third degree sodomy, he should never have been required to register on Idaho’s adult sex offender registry when he moved to Idaho.

“Because LaCroix was a juvenile at the time of his Oregon offense, and because LaCroix was charged and adjudicated as a juvenile, he was never convicted of crime,” Whyte wrote.

Juveniles simply admit or deny allegations in a petition, they are not “convicted.”

“Neither an admission of the juvenile, nor finding by the court that the facts alleged in the petition are true, is conviction,” Whyte wrote. “Because LaCroix was never convicted of crime in Oregon, he does not meet Idaho’s statutory requirements that would necessitate him to register on Idaho’s sex offender registry.”

The prosecution did not challenge LaCroix’s appeal, and the Attorney General’s Office did not challenge his petition for compensation.

Under the Wrongful Conviction Act, LaCroix is entitled to $62,000 for each year of actual imprisonment, including time imprisoned before he was convicted, according to a letter from the Deputy AG Brian Church on Thursday. The law also states LaCroix is entitled to at least $25,000 for each year on parole. Compensation under the Wrongful Conviction Act is calculated on a daily, pro rata basis.

The Idaho Board of Examiners subcommittee is set to meet Sept. 12 to approve the transfer of funding from the Innocence Fund. It will then need to be approved by the full Board of Examiners. Due to the court’s order and the Attorney General’s Office’s support of the funding transfer, the payment is not expected to be challenged.

The state’s Innocence Fund has previously been used at least twice, for compensation to Christopher Tapp and Charles Fain, who spent decades in prison for crimes they did not commit.

As of June 30, the cash balance of the Innocence Fund was $2,440,656, according to Legislative Services.


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Ruth Brown
Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown is a writer and producer for Idaho Reports and Idaho Public Television.