The Criminal Defense Process

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Watch these videos to learn more about how we can defend your charges:

At Schatz, Anderson & Associates, we handle all kinds of criminal cases, from minor infractions and misdemeanors to the most serious felony offenses. We provide representation during all stages of the criminal process from the initial investigation to post-conviction appeals. If you have been arrested and/or charged with a crime, it is vital that you have a dedicated and knowledgeable defense attorney working for you. A skilled defense attorney can identify potential defenses to your case and raise those defenses in court. The criminal process can be complicated and intimidating, and the consequences of a conviction can be severe. Penalties for a criminal conviction can include fines, counseling, community service, loss of driver’s license or professional licensure, probation, jail or even prison.

Slightly Different Processes Depending on the Charge and Classification

Class C and B Misdemeanor charges have a somewhat different initial criminal process from Class A Misdemeanors and Felony charges. To see the progression of classifications, click here. DUI charges also have a few additional steps since you must deal with the issues of obtaining your vehicle from impound and the civil procedures for fighting for your driver license. To learn more, click the appropriate topics below.

DUI and Driver License Process

Here are the additional steps in defending DUI charges and trying to save your driver license or a professional license:

There are three ways to get out of jail: own recognizance release, pre-trial services, and posting bail. Read more about these options here.

Following an arrest, officers in Utah have the authority to impound a DUI suspect’s car. In order to have your vehicle released from impound, you must pay a $350 DUI impound fee to the DMV and obtain a release authorization. Then you must take the release authorization to the impound lot where your car was towed and pay the towing and storage fees. Click here for more information on how to obtain the release from the DMV and locate your car.

If you had a valid license at the time of your arrest, the officer should have issued you a temporary driver license good for 30 days from the date of your arrest. Check your copy of the DUI Summons and Citation to see if the arresting officer checked the ‘Valid’ box near the bottom of the citation certifying that the DUI Summons and Citation serves as a temporary license for 30 days.

Utah law does not allow DUI offenders to obtain a restricted license to and from work or school. If you are caught driving for any reason during the suspension period, your suspension time will be doubled, and you will be cited for a new charge, Driving on Suspension, a Class B Misdemeanor.

  1. 1st Offense = 120 days;
  2. 2nd or subsequent Offenses = 24 months;
  3. 1st refusal to submit to a chemical test – 18 months;
  4. 2nd refusal to submit to a chemical test or 1st refusal with prior DUI conviction – 36 months*

Watch this video where DUI attorney Jason Schatz talks about drivers license suspensions.

To preserve your right to drive in Utah, you must submit a written request for hearing within 10 calendar days of the date of your arrest. If you contact our office at 801-746-0447 within the 10 days, we will submit the request on your behalf, free of charge or obligation! After you submit the request, you will be mailed a notice of hearing in about 7-10 days, after you submit your request. A hearing must be held within 29 days of the date of your arrest. DMV hearings can be won and your license saved on many grounds, so it is important to have a skillful and knowledgeable attorney represent you at the hearing.

In addition to the impact to your driving privileges, a DUI or other criminal charge can have an even more drastic consequences for holders of professional licenses, including suspension, decertification, probation, or revocation of a host of professional licenses and certifications. An experienced DUI and criminal defense attorney can help guide you through your profession’s requirements from the very start. Read more about this topic here.

The remaining defense processes are the same as other misdemeanors, so see the next section for those steps.

Class C and B Misdemeanor Defense Process

Here are the steps in defending Class C and Class B Misdemeanor charges:

At this hearing, the defendant is required to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If you enter a plea of guilty, the case will be scheduled for sentencing. If you plead not guilty, your case will be scheduled for a Pre-trial Conference. You may be able to avoid having to appear at this hearing by filing a written Entry of Not Guilty Plea.

At the pre-trial Conference your attorney can discuss your case with the prosecutor and can again attempt to negotiate a reasonable plea agreement. If you are unable to reach a plea agreement, the pre-trial conference can be used to schedule further hearings in your case or a trial date.

A skilled attorney may be able to file Motion to Suppress asking the court to suppress some or all of the evidence or a Motion to Dismiss asking the court to dismiss the case in its entirety. If the Motion is granted, a case can be dismissed or seriously weakened. There may be several motions that can be filed, depending on the facts of your case.

If your are unable to negotiate a satisfactory plea agreement and your case is not dismissed on a Motion to Suppress or Motion to Dismiss, you have the right to have your case tried before a judge (bench trial) or a jury (jury trial). The size of the jury is determined by the most serious charge filed against you in your case. At the trial the prosecution will be required to present witnesses and evidence that supports the charges against the defendant. At trial the prosecution has the burden of proving the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to convict, all members of the jury must agree to find the defendant guilty; this is called a unanimous verdict.

If you are found guilty, you have the right to appeal your conviction. There are many different reasons for filing an appeal, and it is important that you have a skilled attorney review your case and determine which grounds for appeal will have the greatest likelihood of success. You may be able to appeal the denial of a Motion to Suppress or an error at trial. In some cases, a successful appeal will result in a dismissal of the case; in others, it may result in a new trial. Regardless of the basis of appeal, a written Notice of Appeal must be filed within 30 days of the conviction and/or sentencing. Along with the Notice of Appeal, a Petition for a Certificate of Probable Cause can be filed asking the court to stay the imposition of the sentence that was imposed until the appeal has been decided.

If you are convicted or enter a plea of guilty pursuant to a plea agreement, the defendant has the right to be sentenced in no less than two (2) but no more than forty-five (45) days. The defendant has the right to waive time for sentencing and be sentenced immediately if he or she chooses. In some cases, a judge will require the defendant to meet with a probation officer prior to sentencing to get a pre-sentence report. The pre-sentence report is a recommendation by the probation department for what type of sentence is appropriate for the defendant. At sentencing, the court will hear recommendations from probation, the prosecutor, and from the defendant and his attorney. None of these recommendations are binding on the court, and the judge makes the final determination as to the sentence to be imposed.

Class A Misdemeanor and Felony Defense Process

Here are the steps in defending Class A Misdemeanor and Felony charges:

The Initial Appearance is the first hearing in a Class A Misdemeanor or felony case. The Initial Appearance is normally scheduled within a few days or weeks of formal charges being filed. At the Initial Appearance, the judge can address the issue of bail or release, if the defendant is in jail. The judge will also verify that the court has your correct information, such as name, date of birth, address, etc. Most importantly, the purpose of the Initial Appearance is to provide the Defendant and his or her attorney with a copy of the Information or formal charging document and advise the defendant of the charges that have been filed against him or her. The judge will then set the next court date for the Roll Call Hearing.

The purpose of the Roll Call is for the defendant to advise the judge as to whether he wishes to have a preliminary hearing. Some cases have more than one roll call. The Roll Call also provides an opportunity for the defense attorney to negotiate with the prosecutor to see if a plea agreement can be made. If a plea agreement is reached, the defendant will waive his right to a preliminary hearing. If a plea agreement is not reached, the court will set a date for a preliminary hearing, if the defendant desires one.

PRELIMINARY HEARING

ARRAIGNMENT

REMAINING PROCESSES

The preliminary hearing serves several purposes:

  1. First, the preliminary hearing is a sort of screening mechanism. At a preliminary hearing, the rules of evidence are not strictly adhered to. Particularly, hearsay evidence is admissible. At the preliminary hearing, the prosecutor must present enough evidence to establish that probable cause exists to believe that a crime was committed and that the defendant was the person who committed the crime. The prosecutor does not have to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt; that is the standard of proof at trial. If the judge is convinced that probable cause exists to believe that a crime was committed and that the defendant committed it, the case will be bound over for trial.
  2. The second purpose served by the preliminary hearing is that it serves as a method of discovery for the defense. The preliminary hearing allows the defense attorney a sort of sneak peak at the prosecution’s case. A skilled defense attorney can learn a great deal about the prosecution’s case at the preliminary hearing. The defense attorney is allowed to cross examine the prosecution witnesses and can even present his own witnesses, if he chooses to. It is very rare for the defense to call any witnesses to testify at a preliminary hearing. Since the preliminary hearing is on the record, the witness’s preliminary hearing testimony can be introduced at a later trial to impeach the credibility of a witness whose trial testimony is inconsistent with his or her preliminary hearing testimony.

After a case has been bound over from the Preliminary Hearing, an Arraignment is scheduled. At this hearing, the defendant is required to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If you enter a plea of guilty, the case will be scheduled for sentencing. If you plead not guilty, your case will be scheduled for a Pre-trial Conference.

From this point on, your case follows the same process as a Class C or B Misdemeanor. See the previous tab for more information.
The remaining steps in the criminal process are the same as the misdemeanor process, so review the previous section for those steps.

You need a Utah criminal defense team who understands the criminal process to help you through this difficult time. Don’t take any chances with your freedom. Call us now at 801-746-0447 to schedule your FREE no obligation consultation with one of our excellent Utah DUI and criminal defense attorneys.

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