If you have been charged with a crime in Farmington, it is important to begin defending your case as soon as possible. Going through the criminal justice system on your own can be difficult and have serious implications for your freedom.
The criminal justice system in Farmington is often a lengthy and stressful process that includes multiple hearings and negotiations before reaching trial. Each part of the process has its own objectives but offers you time to have our skilled criminal defense attorneys review your case to determine the strength of the state’s evidence against you. Depending on the evidence, it could be possible to have your charges reduced or even dismissed.
Contact Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free case consultation with our criminal defense attorneys.
The Criminal Justice Process that Our Farmington, UT Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Provide Defense In
Getting arrested and charged with a crime in Farmington is often a harrowing experience. Fortunately, our criminal defense attorneys can help defend your rights throughout the criminal justice process. It is important to understand what happens at each phase since your freedom can be impacted during any of them. The following process details what occurs from arrest to sentencing in Farmington:
Arrest and Booking
Once arrested in Farmington, the police will book you into jail. You will usually be taken to a holding cell and fingerprinted during this process. You will also need to provide your personal information. You will then be photographed for a mug shot and might need to provide a DNA swab. Your personal belongings will also be taken from you and held until you are released. The booking process also includes a search for items that may have been used in the commission of the crime, including weapons or stolen property.
Once booked, you must wait for your initial hearing before a judge, who will determine whether there is enough evidence to hold you on charges of a crime. In some cases, this may not happen until several days after your arrest.
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, your first appearance should be the arraignment. At this hearing, the judge will ask you to plead whether you are guilty or not guilty of the charges against you. If you do not have legal counsel, you should request that your arraignment be postponed until you can consult one. At this point, it is highly recommended that you not plead guilty. There are typically more opportunities to defend a case and negotiate a better plea deal if you do not first admit guilt. If later the best legal strategy is to plead guilty, you can change your plea then.
During a bail hearing, the judge determines whether or not bail should be set at all or what amount should be set if it is determined that you can be released. If no bail is set for you, you will remain in jail until your court date. If a bail amount is set, you usually need to pay only 10% of the total bail amount in order to be released from custody. To determine this, the judge will look to see if you have missed court in the past or if it would be dangerous to release you back into the community.
If you have been charged with a felony or Class A misdemeanor, you usually have a preliminary hearing before arraignment. At the preliminary hearing, the prosecution will present evidence to convince the court that you should be held for trial for the charges you were arrested for. If there is not enough evidence for one of all the charges against you, those charges should be dismissed. If the court decides that enough evidence has been shown to hold you for trial, you will proceed to the arraignment phase, where you will enter your plea.
Plea negotiations are the most common way criminal cases are resolved in Farmington. A plea is an agreement between the prosecutor and defense attorney that a defendant will plead guilty to certain charges in exchange for a lesser sentence or other concessions by the prosecution. Plea negotiations can be conducted at any point throughout the criminal justice process but typically occur at the pre-trial conference before the trial begins. This gives both sides time to evaluate their evidence and assess the strength of their case.
Plea agreements can cover everything from minor traffic violations to murder charges. Once an agreement has been reached, it must be approved by a judge who usually holds an oral hearing where each party can explain why they think their proposed plea is fair and just under the circumstances. Judges rarely reject plea agreements outright unless they seem egregiously one-sided or unfair to either side. However, they can make minor adjustments, such as reducing one charge or adding stipulations about probationary periods or restitution payments.
If no plea deal can be reached or your attorney believes there are serious flaws in the state’s case, you have the right to take your case to trial. There are two types of criminal trials depending on the severity of the charges: jury trials and bench trials. A bench trial is when a judge hears a case without a jury. A jury trial is when a group of jurors decides whether someone is guilty or not guilty.
A trial by jury is a matter of right in Utah felony cases and must be tried in front of one. However, misdemeanor cases will not be tried before a jury unless the defendant specifically requests one.
The sentencing phase is technically separate from the trial and can be made later if the trial concludes with a guilty sentence. During the sentencing phase, each side will usually argue for the penalties that should be applied. Your attorney can present evidence supporting your character or make other arguments to help mitigate your punishment. In some criminal cases, however, the penalties might be automatic.
Punishments can include fines, probation, community service hours, and time in prison. The judge decides which punishments to give based on what type of crime was committed and how much harm was caused to the victim.
Levels of Criminal Penalties in Farmington, UT
There are three main levels of criminal penalties in Farmington, depending on the severity of the charges. The least serious crimes are typically charged as misdemeanors. However, misdemeanors are separated into low-grade offenses, life theft under $500, and high-grade misdemeanors, like assault.
More serious or violent crimes are usually charged as felonies. In many cases, a felony conviction will include years of imprisonment. If a defendant has been charged with a capital felony, typically reserved for murder cases, they could face the death penalty for their crimes.
Our Farmington, UT Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help
Call our criminal defense lawyers today at Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free review of your case.