When you get a call from a loved one, such as a wife, telling you that they are behind bars, you may find yourself in a state of shock. It can be difficult to even process what is happening let alone strategize about what next steps you need to take to protect your wife’s life and liberty. You may be confused about how much involvement you can have in the case and whether or not you are permitted to engage the services of an attorney on your wife’s behalf. Below, experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer Darwin Overson will guide you through Utah criminal procedure and help you understand the best steps you can take to help your wife through her legal troubles.
Who is Allowed to Hire Someone Else’s Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City?
The concept of attorney-client privilege may be confusing to those not in the legal profession. It may lead you to believe you are not allowed to pay for a lawyer for someone else, such as your wife, without violating this privilege. However, in reality, it is perfect legal for anyone to hire a defense attorney for anyone else’s criminal defense. Even if you pay for this attorney, though, you will not be entitled to know what was discussed in privileged conversations between your wife and her attorney.
How to Help Your Wife Through the Bail Process
In Utah, judges almost always set bail for a criminal defendant. Bail is the amount of money that you must put up as collateral in order to be released from detention during the pendency of your criminal proceedings. If you fail to show up to a required court appearance, you will forfeit the bail money you already paid and be required to pay the entirety of the bail fee that the judge imposed.
Sometimes, for low-level offenses such as public intoxication, the police may simply give your wife a citation and release her without bail. Even for higher-level offenses, it is generally within the judge’s discretion to release someone without bail, or “own their own recognizance,” if they believe it is appropriate. This decision will come at a bail hearing that must be held within 48 hours of someone being placed in detention following an arrest.
Most of the time at this hearing, however, the judge will choose to impose bail. The amount of that bail will depend upon multiple factors. The most important factor a judge in Utah will consider in setting the amount of bail is Utah’s Uniform Bail Schedule. This is a series of guidelines for what amount of bail should be set for each crime in the criminal code, produced each year by the sentencing commission. The bail schedule takes into account not only the severity of the crime alleged to have been committed, but also the criminal history of the alleged perpetrator. For example, if your wife is arrested for DUI in Salt Lake City and has been convicted twice previously for DUI, the bail schedule will call for a higher bail amount than if this was her first offense.
The judge does retain a great deal of discretion in making bail decisions. They can increase or decrease bail from what is recommended in the schedule if they find the presence of “extenuating circumstances.” For particularly violent felonies or for repeat offenders, they can even grant no bail at all. If no bail is granted, your wife will have to remain behind bars until her case reaches a conclusion. An experienced bail hearing lawyer like the attorneys at Overson & Bugden will understand the best arguments to make to the judge to keep your wife’s bail to a minimum. They can also help put you in touch with a reputable bail bondsman if the bail is too high for you to pay on your own.
Understanding the Criminal Process in Salt Lake City, UT
The next step after a bail hearing is an arraignment. At the arraignment, the judge will read your wife her charges and her rights and ask if she wants to plead guilty or not guilty. A criminal defense attorney will likely advise her to plead not guilty while they request discovery, assess the strength of the case, and potentially try to work out a deal with the prosecutor on your behalf.
If this is a low-level charge and your wife has not been convicted of a crime previously, a skilled defense attorney may be able to get her into a pre-trial diversion program. In such a program, the case will be taken out of the court, and your wife will be required to complete some sort of education through counseling, community service, or other activities. Other times, an attorney can negotiate a deal where your charges are downgraded, or they can recommend the judge impose a lesser sentence.
If no acceptable deal is reached, our Sandy, UT criminal defense attorneys at Overson & Bugden are willing and able to take your case to trial. We have experience trying all sorts of cases and will aggressively fight to convince the jury to acquit your wife. If she is convicted, there will be a sentencing hearing, where our attorneys know how to lobby the judge for less harsh sentences by showing evidence of your wife’s positive contributions to society outside of this incident.
If Your Wife Has Been Arrested, Call Our Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorney for a Free Consultation
Sometimes, dealing with legal proceedings against a loved one can be even more challenging than dealing with your own legal situation. The best thing you can do for your wife, or any other loved one who has been arrested, is hire an attorney as soon as possible to fight their case. Without a skilled criminal defense attorney like those at Overson & Bugden, your wife may not understand her rights and may end up pleading to something that she could have fought. Do not hesitate to call us at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation if your wife has been arrested.