Does a Person Get Released after an Arraignment in Utah?
Dealing with the criminal justice system can be stressful and complex for anyone, but it can be especially so if this is your first time being arrested for a crime and placed behind bars. You are likely to be scared, confused, and unsure what to do to get yourself out of jail as quickly as possible. When you are told about an initial appearance, a bail hearing, and an arraignment, you may not understand what the difference is between these events that often occur quickly in succession after your arrest, or which one involves you getting released to the safety of your home. Below, our experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC explain what an arraignment is, how getting released works, and how we can help get you out of jail as quickly as possible.
The Criminal Arraignment in Utah
Decisions about whether a person who was arrested will be released from jail get made at the bail hearing, not the arraignment, though the two often occur in tandem. The criminal arraignment itself is a relatively short and simple proceeding where you officially enter an initial plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If you enter a guilty plea, the matter will be resolved and will proceed to the sentencing phase, where the judge will impose penalties. If you enter a no contest plea, which is essentially equivalent to a guilty plea but cannot be used as proof of your guilt in any related civil case, the matter will also proceed to sentencing. A no contest plea requires approval of the court.
In misdemeanor cases, the arraignment will occur at the same time as your initial appearance in court. The initial appearance in both felony and misdemeanor cases consists of the judge reading the charges against you and advising you of your rights in a criminal case, and it also typically includes the bail hearing. In felony cases, the arraignment where you are asked to enter your plea will not occur until later in the case, after your bail hearing and a potential preliminary hearing.
It is likely that an experienced Utah attorney for a criminal arraignment like those at Overson Law, PLLC will advise you to enter a not guilty plea at your arraignment. Even if you do not wish to take your case to trial, entering an initial plea of not guilty will give us time to collect all the evidence, assess the strength of the case, and try to negotiate a deal with the prosecutor for the charges to be downgraded or dismissed. You can easily change your plea to guilty or no contest later if we reach an acceptable deal.
The Bail Hearing in Utah
You will want to act quickly after your arrest to retain an experienced bail hearing attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC to represent you at your bail hearing, where a judge will decide if you can be released or if you must be held in jail until the underlying matter is resolved. Typically, this hearing occurs within 72 hours of your arrest at most. The judge will only hold those accused of the most severe crimes like rape, those who have serious criminal records, or those who have a history of not showing up for court. Sometimes, typically for more minor crimes, the judge will release you on your own recognizance, meaning without bail. The only condition will be that you show up to your scheduled court appearances as required. If you fail to show up as required, the judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest and will likely impose bail or hold you without it.
In most cases, the judge will set bail, which you will have to pay at least part of to be released. Judges normally follow the guidelines set out in the Utah Uniform Bail Schedule, which lists suggested bail amounts for each crime. However, the judge has the ability to set bail lower than suggested if they find “extenuating circumstances” in your case. In making such a decision, the judge will consider factors including the nature and severity of the crime alleged, your criminal history, and your ties and contributions to the local community. Our lawyers know how to craft the most persuasive arguments based on the individual factors in your case to get you released on little to no bail.
What Happens if I Am Not Released After an Arraignment in Utah?
If the judge chooses to hold you with no bail, we can make a motion for reconsideration. You are entitled to a second hearing where our skilled criminal defense attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC can have a more extensive chance to argue why you should not be considered a threat to the public or a flight risk if you are released. We will work to convince the judge that the initial ruling should be aside and that either bail should be set or you should be released on your own recognizance.
If you are not able to secure your release because bail has been set too high for you to afford, you will have a few options. First, you can retain a bail bondsman, who will post a surety bond with the court in exchange for you paying a nominal amount. If you fail to appear as required, however, the bondsman will owe the court the full amount and will come after you and any co-signers for repayment. We can also file a motion for bail reduction, which works similar to a motion for reconsideration except that we will argue that bail has been set too high rather than that bail should be set in the first place.
If You or a Loved One Is Being Held in Jail, Call Our Skilled Utah Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
Your arraignment is a separate event from the bail hearing where it is determined whether you can be released, although in some cases they will happen at or around the same time. If you are concerned about getting you or a loved one who had been arrested out of jail quickly, contact our experienced criminal defense lawyers at Overson Law, PLLC as soon as possible. We will work to get you home to safety and then focus on getting your charges downgraded or dismissed. For a free consultation, call our office today at (801) 758-2287.