Ada County Sheriff's Office FAQ

About the Ada County Sheriff's Office

  1. What's the difference between a sheriff's office and a police department?
  2. How can I get a job with the ACSO?

Arrests and Jail

  1. What is a charge?
  2. What is the difference between a criminal case and a civil case?
  3. What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?
  4. What is the difference between jail and prison?
  5. How do I check to see if someone has an arrest warrant?
  6. How do I visit an inmate?
  7. How do I send mail to an inmate?
  8. How do I send money to an inmate?

911 FAQs

  1. When should I call 911?
  2. What if I call 911 accidentally?
  3. Why do the dispatchers ask so many question when I call 911 for help?
  4. What agencies does the Sheriff's Office dispatch for?

Records and Property

  1. How do I get a copy of an accident or incident report?
  2. How do I request a background check on someone?
  3. How do I claim lost or stolen property?

Licensing

  1. Where do I get a driver's license?
  2. How do I get a concealed weapon permit?

General

  1. Where do I pay a traffic ticket?
  2. Where can I get fingerprinted?

What's the difference between a sheriff's office and a police department?

The main difference is jurisdiction. A sheriff's office provides law enforcement services and jail services for an entire county while a police department serves a specific city or town. In Idaho, a sheriff's office is responsible for all civil services within a county.

In Ada County, city departments contract with the sheriff's office to oversee record storage and 911 dispatch. Some cities (Eagle, Star and Kuna) also contract for police services.

What is a charge?

A charge is an accusation based on evidence or information. The criminal justice process starts with the pressing of charges. Being charged does not necessarily mean that a person is guilty of a crime. Only a court can decide that. Charges can be brought through the:

  • Arrest of an accused person at the scene of the alleged crime;
  • Arrest based on a warrant issued by the judge;
  • Arrest based on an indictment by a grand jury as the result of an investigation.

All charges must be provable by evidence indicating that more than likely a crime has been committed and that the person charged is the one who more than likely committed the crime.

What is the difference between a criminal and a civil charge?

A criminal case is brought by the authority of the state or federal government, represented by the prosecutor (known as the district attorney or United States attorney). Criminal cases seek punishment such as a fine, jail time, or both as the outcome.

Civil cases usually are brought by private parties or corporations and seek to collect monetary damages.

What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?

A felony is a more serious crime; misdemeanors are less serious. Punishment for a felony carries more than a year in prison. Someone convicted of a misdemeanor usually serves a year or less in jail. Conviction of either a felony or misdemeanor may also carry fines or probation.

What is the difference between jail and prison?

In Idaho, jails are run by sheriffs and are designed to hold individuals waiting for trial or serving a short sentence. Inmates sentenced to less than a year can serve their time in jail.

Idaho prisons are run by the Idaho Department of Correction and are designed to hold only individuals already convicted.

The Ada County Jail operates work release programs, electronic monitoring programs and other specialized services. We provide educational opportunities, substance abuse treatment, and vocational programs while managing inmate behavior.

Where can I get fingerprinted?

You can have a fingerprint card completed at:
Idaho State Police Headquarters
700 S. Stratford Drive
Meridian, Idaho.

For more information, contact Idaho State Police at (208) 884-7130.

When should I call 911?

911 is for emergencies or things that could become emergencies.

  • Is there a threat to life or property?
  • Are you or someone else the victim of a crime?
  • Do you have a police emergency?
  • Do you or someone else have a medical emergency?
  • Do you need the fire department?

If the situation seems urgent and has the potential to become dangerous, call 911. Dispatchers will determine whether your call should be handled by 911 or can be transferred to another person or agency. All other calls should be directed to our non-emergency number: 377-6790.

 What if I call 911 accidentally?

If you accidentally dial 911, do not hang up. Stay on the line and tell the dispatcher that everything is alright. If you don't, the dispatcher may think that something is wrong and send a police officer to check.

Why do the dispatchers ask so many question when I call 911?

Emergency dispatchers need to get accurate information to allow officers to make the best decision on how to approach the situation. Dispatchers handling fire and paramedic calls must also consider the well-being of the public and the safety of the firefighters and paramedics.  Callers will be asked:

  • Where
  • What
  • Who
  • When
  • (maybe) Why

The information you provide a dispatcher is relayed to responding officers, paramedics or firefighters while they are on their way to the call.