How Long Can You Sit in a Utah Jail Without a Set Court Date?

Being arrested for a crime is one of the scariest and most disorienting experienced a person can face, especially if this is their first time dealing with the criminal justice system. There are many questions you will have after being arrested, but none may be so pressing as whether you will have to spend time in jail while waiting to see a judge or have a court date set. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is complicated and depends on a variety of factors related to your case. In this article, Overson & Bugden’s experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer will guide you through the post-arrest process and the rules for when and how you can be held in detention while your case is resolved.

Post-Arrest Jail Time in Utah

After an arrest, the first thing that will happen is that you will be transported to the local police station so that what is known as the booking process can take place. The booking process involves you being fingerprinted and photographed, the police collecting your biographical information, and any items on your person being inventoried and kept in police custody until you are released. Once you have been booked, the prosecutor will have 72 hours before deciding whether or not file charges against you.

Within 48-72 hours after charges have been filed, you will be taken before a judge for your arraignment and bail hearing. However, the prosecutor has the ability to ask for an extension if they haven’t prepared the charges by this point. If you do not have an attorney, the court will most likely grant the extension and you could spend days or even weeks more in jail before you get a chance to appear before a judge. An experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer like those at Overson & Bugden will know how to get the process expedited so that you do not spend one second more than you need to behind bars.

How Bail is Determined in Utah

For most criminal cases in Utah, the judge will issue an amount of bail you will be required to put up in order to be released from jail while your court case is pending. In certain situations where you are charged with a minor misdemeanor or infraction, the police may release you on your own recognizance without having you appear before a judge. In such a case, you will be issued a citation or summons to appear in court on a certain date and it is vital that you do appear, or you could have a bench warrant issued against you. A bench warrant may result in you being detained for the remainder of your criminal proceeding.

When bail is issued, Utah judges largely follow the Utah Uniform Bail Schedule in deciding the amount of bail to require from each criminal defendant. These guidelines factor in both the severity of the alleged crime and the individual’s history of criminal convictions to determine how much bail they should be required to put up. The more prior convictions you have, the higher your bail is likely to be. For certain serious or violent felonies, the judge has the option not to issue bail and to order you detained until the underlying criminal case is resolved.

Utah law also gives the judge discretion to impose bail outside of the Uniform Bail Schedule if the judge finds there are extenuating circumstances that merit consideration. An experienced bail hearing defense attorney like those at Overson & Bugden will know what types of arguments are most persuasive in convincing the judge to release you on little to no bail. Some of the factors they will take under consideration include the nature and severity of the crime alleged, the criminal history of the defendant, whether the defendant is currently out on bail for another pending case, whether the defendant has a history of probation violations or parole violations, a defendant’s history of mental health or substance abuse issues, and the defendant’s ties to the community and job situation.

Speedy Trial Requests in Utah

Under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, accused citizens are guaranteed the right to a speedy trial. Because the Constitution does not explicitly define what constitutes a speedy trial, however, it is often unclear how long the government has to set a trial date from the time you are arraigned. This becomes especially relevant in cases where bail has been denied or the defendant cannot afford to post bail and will therefore be incarcerated until the underlying criminal matter is resolved.

For most cases in Utah, a trial should take place between 2-4 months after the arraignment. However, both sides are permitted to ask for extensions in cases that are complex and may require additional time to collect evidence, secure witnesses, and prepare the case. If your lawyer does agree to the prosecution’s request for an extension, they can file a motion claiming that your speedy trial rights have been violated and thus the case must be dismissed. Judges consider the following when ruling on a speedy trial motion:

  • How long any delay lasted
  • The reasons for the delay
  • Whether the delay caused any harm to the defendant
  • Whether and when the defendant or their attorney requested a speedy trial

If You or a Loved One is Being Held in Jail Awaiting a Court Date, Contact Our Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

While it is always frightening to be faced with criminal charges, the prospect of spending weeks or months behind bars awaiting your chance at presenting your side of the story can be one of the scariest situations you find yourself in. At Overson & Bugden, our experienced West Jordan criminal defense attorneys will leave no stone unturned in fighting to get you released from jail as soon as possible. We will advocate for your freedom while we fight to get the underlying charges dismissed or downgraded. For a free, confidential consultation, call us today at (801) 758-2287.