One of the scariest things about being arrested for a crime is the prospect of having to spend significant time in jail. Even many of those who are never convicted of a crime will have to spend some time behind bars while they wait for charges to be filed and a bail hearing to be held. While there are some limits to the amount of time you can be kept in jail without a chance to be released on bail, the justice system often moves slow and the expertise of a local defense attorney may be needed to speed the process along. Below, our experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer at Overson & Bugden explains the post-arrest process in Utah and how long you can be held in jail while a court date is pending.
How Long Can You Be Kept in Jail before a Bail Hearing in Salt Lake City?
After you have been arrested, you will be brought to the local police station to undergo what is known as the booking process. During this process, the police with gather your biographical information and take your fingerprints and photographs. They will also search your person and take custody of any items you have on you until you are released.
Official charges must be brought within 72 hours of detaining someone for a crime in Salt Lake City. Once charges have been brought, a bail hearing is supposed to be held within 48-72 hours. Sometimes, the prosecutor may request an extension, and if it is granted, you could end up spending days or weeks in jail before getting before a judge. An experienced criminal defense attorney like those on the team at Overson & Bugden can fight to have your initial appearance before the judge expedited so you can be released and go home while the case is pending.
For some low-level misdemeanors and infractions, the police may simply choose to release you on your own recognizance with a summons to appear in court on a certain date. If you fail to appear, a bench warrant will likely be issued and you could end up back in jail while the warrant is resolved.
How Does a Bail Hearing Work in Salt Lake City?
Most cases in Utah will proceed to a bail hearing. The bail hearing often occurs in conjunction with, or soon after, the criminal arraignment, where you appear before a judge to have your charges read to you and enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. It is vital that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney representing you at this point, as they will likely advise you to plead not guilty while they gather more information on the case against you.
For most crimes in Utah, bail will be set based on the Utah Uniform Bail Schedule. These guidelines take into account the severity of the crime you are alleged to have committed as well as any prior history or criminal convictions you may have. For example, someone with several past convictions charged with robbery is likely to have less bail imposed on them than someone charged with robbery who has a clean criminal history.
The judge is given some discretion to set bail at a different rate from what is suggested in the guidelines if they find extenuating circumstances in your case. In the case of severe crimes like violent felonies, the judge will have the option to grant no bail and require that you remain incarcerated for the entirety of the criminal proceedings against you. An experienced Salt Lake City bail hearing defense attorney like those at Overson & Bugden will understand how to craft the most successful argument for you to be released with minimal or no bail. Some of the factors the judge will consider include the following:
- The nature and severity of the alleged crime
- Whether there is a restraining order against the defendant
- Whether the defendant has violated probation or violated parole
- Whether the defendant is already free on bail for another case
- Whether any appeals of a former conviction are still pending
- Whether the defendant has connections to the community (such as family or employers)
- Whether the defendant has a history of substance abuse and/or mental illness
- Whether the defendant has a record of prior offenses
- The defendant’s personal character and reputation within the community
Speedy Trial Rights in Salt Lake City
If the judge believes you are a threat to the public and does not issue bail for you, or if you are not able to afford bail, you will be held in detention until the criminal charges against you are resolved. While in many cases, your attorney may be able to work out a plea deal with the prosecutor, in other cases you may want to take the case to trial.
Typically, trials need to be held within 2-4 months of your arrest to avoid running into issues with the Speedy Trial clause of the U.S. Constitution. However, for more complex cases the prosecutor may need a longer time to prepare. If your lawyer does not consent to such a delay, the following factors will be considered by the court to determine whether your speedy trial rights have been violated:
- How long the delay lasted
- The reasons for the delay
- Whether the delay caused any harm to the defendant (i.e. influencing the case to the defendant’s detriment)
- Whether, and at which point, the defendant requested a speedy trial
If You Are Concerned About Being Held in Custody While Your Criminal Case is Pending, Call Our Experienced Attorneys Today
There are few hard and fast rules about how long you can sit in jail before the court schedules your trial date. As such, this is a situation where it is extremely important that you have a knowledgeable West Jordan criminal defense attorney like those at Overson & Bugden on your side advocating for you to be released and for the court to schedule your appearances promptly. We will work to ensure that your case is concluded in a speedy and satisfactory manner. If you have questions, call us today at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation.