Criminal charges can change every aspect of your life in the blink of an eye. Most defendants do not have any experience with Utah’s legal system and may feel completely lost and overwhelmed. If one of your loved ones was arrested in Provo, there are probably dozens of questions on your mind, like “How long can my loved one be held in custody?” or “What could happen if my loved one is convicted?” Our Provo criminal defense attorney Darwin Overson is here to answer those questions, protect your loved one’s Constitutional rights, and fight for a favorable resolution to their case.
Darwin has over 16 years of experience representing thousands of clients across Utah. He has handled a wide array of misdemeanors and felonies on behalf of adult and juvenile defendants. If one of your loved ones has been charged with a crime in Provo, your family needs aggressive legal representation. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 right away to set up a free, completely confidential consultation. Darwin is able to make emergency visits to the Utah County Jail and other holding centers.
When You Should Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Provo
Do not be afraid to hire a lawyer. Some people hesitate to hire an attorney to help them out of a legal problem because they are afraid of how it will be perceived. These people often operate under the impression that if someone is truly innocent or has nothing to hide, they do not need a lawyer. This could not be further from the truth. All defendants, guilty or not guilty, have rights that must be protected from government overreach. Our Provo criminal defense lawyer will protect your rights no matter what.
There is no need to wait to hire an attorney until you are formally charged. You can hire an attorney as soon as you think it becomes necessary. You should definitely hire an attorney if you have been arrested. The police will usually allow people to make a phone call after being arrested and booked. Even if you do not get a phone call, you can still invoke your Miranda rights. These rights include the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present during police questioning. By invoking these rights, you do not have to answer any police questions until you have a lawyer by your side.
Waiting too long to hire an attorney will only hinder your attorney’s ability to help you. Hiring a lawyer later down the line means that lawyer will need to review all the details of your case before deciding what to do next. These details can include information about your arrest, evidence gathered, searches by the police, and more. There are also multiple steps that occur before your trial in which having legal representation would be beneficial.
Utah County Jail, Bail, and the Court Process in Provo
After an arrest is made, the arresting officers will bring the person into custody. Once in custody, the person will be “booked,” which means police will compile information about the suspect and alleged crime. During booking, the suspect will be photographed and fingerprinted, and their personal items will be confiscated.
If no charges have been filed by the prosecutor, the person should not be held in custody for more than 72 hours. It is not unusual for the Utah County Attorney’s Office to file for an extension on this 72-hour period, though these extensions can be challenged. Speak to our Provo criminal defense lawyer about challenging the terms of your bail.
Generally speaking, people awaiting trial at the Utah County Jail are eligible to be released on bail. Bail may be cash-only or bondable, which means that a bail bond can be used. Excessive bail is unconstitutional, so you should seek legal assistance if you think your loved one’s bail amount is unreasonably high. If the defendant fails to return for future court appearances after being released on bail, the judge can issue a bench warrant for the person’s arrest.
Pre-Trial Stages for Criminal Cases in Provo
The trial itself is never the first step in the court process after an arrest. In fact, there are many steps which take place before trial. These steps include arraignment, which is when the defendant enters their plea (e.g. “guilty,” “not guilty”), and, in some cases, plea bargaining, which involves negotiation between the defense and prosecution. If the person was arrested for a felony, there are additional steps called the first appearance and preliminary hearing at the outset of the process. Our Provo criminal defense attorney can walk you through these pre-trial steps.
The first appearance is when the courts officially notify the defendant of the charges against them. The court will also advise the defendant of their right moving forward, including their right to be represented by an attorney. However, the first appearance looks different for misdemeanors than it does for felonies.
For a misdemeanor case, the first appearance will also include the arraignment. If a defendant has no legal representation at this point, the court may reschedule the arraignment to allow the defendant time to consult with a lawyer. Once ready, the defendant will enter a plea. If you want to take full advantage of your right to a trial, you should plead not guilty. However, if we can work out a plea agreement, you may want to plead guilty or no contest.
For felony cases and class A misdemeanors, a preliminary hearing is held between the first appearance and the arraignment. The preliminary hearing’s purpose is to make sure there is enough evidence to hold the defendant over for trial. Think of it as an extra hurdle for prosecutors. If they cannot demonstrate there is enough evidence to warrant a trial, your charges could be dismissed. If a defendant is held for trial, they will be scheduled for an arraignment.
Fines and Sentencing for Criminal Convictions in Provo
There are two types of crimes in Utah: misdemeanors, which are lesser offenses such as reckless driving and shoplifting under $300, and felonies, which are serious offenses like sexual assault and homicide. Our Provo criminal defense attorney is here to help no matter how serious or minor your charges may be.
Misdemeanors and felonies are both divided into several different categories. Misdemeanors are assigned alphabetical “classes,” while felonies are given numbered “degrees.” Some offenses, such as assault, can be a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the factors that were present when the crime was allegedly committed. Factors that enhance sentencing, like committing a crime on school property, are called “aggravating factors.”
Despite carrying lesser penalties than felonies, misdemeanors are still capable of resulting in stiff fines, incarceration, and the creation of a criminal record. Depending on which type of offense is involved, the defendant might also receive other penalties, such as:
- Criminal restitution, which is paid toward the victim.
- Mandatory community service.
- Mandatory installation of a breathalyzer device in their personal vehicle.
- Mandatory registration as a sex offender.
- Restrictions on gun rights.
- Supervised probation.
- Temporary suspension of their driver’s license.
Probation and Diversion Programs in Provo
Not all criminal convictions have to result in a jail or prison term. Many different alternative forms of sentencing do not include incarceration. While these alternative sentencing options are not always available, your attorney can advocate for sentencing that does not involve jail or prison.
Depending on what you have been charged with, you may be eligible for probation. Probation allows a convicted defendant to serve their sentence from home rather than being sent to prison. However, probation sentences come with various terms and conditions with which the defendant must comply or risk being re-arrested and sent to prison to finish the remainder of their sentence. For example, a defendant convicted of a nonviolent drug offense may be required to attend drug treatment courses in addition to keeping out of legal trouble. The terms of your probation may vary depending on the nature of your charges.
Similar to probation, diversion programs also allow convicted defendants to avoid jail or prison time. However, there are several key differences. First, entering a diversion program often requires a guilty plea, whereas probation can be imposed after a jury verdict. Second, your guilty plea will be held in abeyance, or set aside and given no effect, until you complete your diversion program. Upon successful completion, your guilty plea will be withdrawn, and your charges might be dismissed. If you fail to complete your program, your guilty plea will be officially entered, and you may have to serve a prison or jail sentence.
Our Provo criminal defense lawyer can help you avoid incarceration and serve your sentence in a way that allows you to remain at home with your family.
Appealing a Criminal Conviction in Provo
Convictions are not necessarily the final straw for your case. Defendants have a right to appeal their convictions to higher courts. These higher appellate courts will review your case’s record from the lower trial courts and look for legal errors. These errors must be mistakes of law that may have resulted in unfair or unjust outcomes.
A direct appeal is available to most defendants unless you entered a guilty plea or otherwise waived your appellate rights. Your appeal must be filed shortly after your conviction. If you miss the deadline, you may not be able to file a direct appeal at all. On a direct appeal, almost any issues that occurred during your trial may be heard by the court, as long as you preserved the issue for appeal. An issue can be preserved for appeal by objecting or otherwise bringing it to the court’s attention, so it is on the record.
If your direct appeal is unsuccessful, you may also petition for relief under the Utah Post-Conviction Remedies Act (PCRA). Unlike a direct appeal, a petition for relief under the PCRA can only be filed after you have been sentenced. Your petition will also be more limited than under a direct appeal. The PCRA includes specific grounds for relief, such as ineffective assistance of counsel or newly discovered evidence. Speak with our Provo criminal defense attorney to determine if you may be eligible for relief under the PCRA.
If You Were Arrested in Provo, Our Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help
If you or one of your loved ones was arrested in Utah, do not wait until it is too late to get legal help. Call Provo criminal defense attorney Darwin Overson of Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 today to set up your free, confidential case evaluation.