Do Misdemeanors Go Away on Their Own in Utah?
Misdemeanors – as opposed to felonies – are usually considered lighter or less-severe crimes. However, even though misdemeanor charges might not be as serious as felonies, they can still result in months in jail and expensive fines, not to mention arrest – and potential re-arrest if you don’t show up to court. The Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers at Overson Law discuss three things you need to handle after facing misdemeanor charges, and how these charges do not just go away on their own in Utah.
Going to Court to Address Misdemeanor Charges in Utah
Many people have more experience with traffic tickets or citations for minor violations than they do with misdemeanor charges. When you face a traffic ticket, you can usually pay the fine by mail or pay online and avoid having to show up to court at all. The same might be true for some citations, but you may need to pay your fine at the courthouse.
With misdemeanor charges, however, you need to go to court and see the case through to the end before you can move on from the charges. It is vital to bring a lawyer with you as many misdemeanors can lead to jail time up to 364 days or criminal fines up to $1,000. Even though these charges might not be as severe as felony charges, police and prosecutors may aggressively pursue penalties for misdemeanor assault and other crimes.
Avoiding Bench Warrants for Misdemeanors in Utah
If you were arrested and charged with a misdemeanor crime, you will usually be given a court date, bail will be set, and you will be released from jail. If you are released on your own recognizance (“ROR bail”), then you will have to return to your court date on your own. If you paid bail or got a bail bond to secure your release, they will keep that money if you fail to come back to court, which can help push defendants to appear at their court dates.
If you do not appear, you may have another warrant issued for your arrest. Judges can usually file a “bench warrant” – a warrant issued “from the bench” at court – authorizing police to arrest you and bring you back to court. If you fail to go to court and address your charges, this bench warrant will stay on file, and you could be arrested any time you come across a police officer for a traffic stop or another interaction.
If you go to court and handle your case, you can move along. However, you will need a lawyer to represent you and fight to get charges dropped and reduced; you should never plead guilty to charges just to get things over with. Instead, talk to a lawyer about how to move forward with your case and work to avoid a conviction for a serious misdemeanor.
Expunging Your Record for Misdemeanor Crimes in Utah
If you were charged and convicted of a misdemeanor in the past, it is likely that that crime is still on your criminal record. Crimes do not simply go away off your record in Utah. Instead, past convictions and arrests stay on your record indefinitely so that police, courts, employers, and anyone else who needs to can run a background check on you and see what you’ve done. However, there are ways to get your criminal record expunged to avoid past convictions following you around.
Traffic tickets and offenses on your criminal record will usually become irrelevant after a few years, they might be dropped off your record, and the points will expire. However, criminal charges stay on your criminal record, and they will typically stay there forever if you don’t do anything about it.
Utah law allows for expungement, which can be extremely helpful to people with an old criminal record or a record that involves only minor offenses. Expungement allows you to have a past conviction wiped off your record and seals the record so that only courts and police can see it – and only for a good reason.
Expungement is usually only available for mild and moderate crimes, which makes it perfect for old misdemeanors. This can be perfect for getting your record expunged if you have old convictions for shoplifting, theft, trespassing, or other lesser crimes. However, some offenses do not qualify for expungement, so it is important to talk to a lawyer and see if your case qualifies.
Expungement is important for many people. Having a criminal record can be the biggest hurdle to getting a job, and many people with criminal records are instantly denied an opportunity to get an interview or even apply. Having charges expunged can give you a new lease on life and help you apply for housing, jobs, loans, and other things that you might need without facing discrimination for your criminal record. Talk to a lawyer today about how to apply for expungement, how much it costs, whether you are eligible for expungement, and how long it will take to clear a misdemeanor off your criminal record.
Call Our Salt Lake City Misdemeanor Expungement Lawyers
If you or a loved one is facing misdemeanor charges in Salt Lake City, ignoring them might lead to bench warrants and other problems. If you have an old conviction of a misdemeanor offense, the criminal record will typically not expire or go away without affirmative steps to get it expunged. Call our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers today to discuss getting your record expunged in Utah. Overson Law’s experienced attorneys offer free legal consultations; call us today at (801) 758-2287 to schedule yours.