How Long Do You Stay in Jail If You Can’t Make Bail in Utah?

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

In most cases, people who are brought into custody at Utah’s Salt Lake County Jail are released on bail; in fact, it’s usually only people who are facing murder charges or have an extensive criminal background whose bail is denied. Determining bail can be tricky because each defendant brings unique circumstances that will influence the bail determinations of the court. But what happens if you can’t afford bail and don’t have access to a bondsman? And how long do you stay in jail if you can’t make bail? Here, the Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys from Overson Law, PLLC will explain how long you can expect to stay in jail if you can’t make bail in Utah.

The Right to Bail in Utah Criminal Case

All American citizens in any state, including Utah, have a right to reasonable bail under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. However, do not confuse this for an absolute right to bail. If the court grants you bail, that bail must be reasonable and fair under your unique circumstances. A court is free to deny you bail if certain conditions are met. In each circumstance, the court must find evidence to support holding you for trial before denying you bail. These conditions tend to be present in more serious cases involving violent offenses where the defendant poses a risk to the community. A court can only deny bail for felony charges, never misdemeanor charges. A court has the discretion to deny bail if the defendant allegedly committed a:

  • Capital felony.
  • Felony while on probation or parole for a different felony.
  • Felony while already out on bail for a different felony.
  • Felony offense and the court, by clear and convincing evidence, finds them to be a danger to the community.
  • Felony offense and the court determines that they are a flight risk by clear and convincing evidence.
  • Felony offense, was released on bail, and then violated a material term of that bail.
  • Domestic violence offense where the court finds the defendant is a danger to the victim if released on bail.

Generally, a total denial of bail is reserved for more serious cases. These are defendants who probably committed a violent offense and have lengthy criminal histories or may pose a danger to their communities. Most people are granted bail, and that bail must be reasonable. Reasonable bail means that the conditions or terms of your bail must be the least restrictive possible that ensure your appearance in court, the safety of victims and witnesses, the safety of the public, and that you will not obstruct the criminal justice process.

Why You Might be Denied Bail in Utah

One of the first steps in the criminal process is the bail hearing, which takes place after the defendant has been arrested but before their preliminary hearing. The purpose of the bail hearing is to determine if the defendant should be released on bail and if so, what the terms should be. There are three possible outcomes that can result from a bail hearing. Either the judge will deny bail to the defendant, the judge will set bail, or the judge will grant a specific type of bail known as “release on own recognizance” (also known as ROR). ROR bail can only be granted to defendants if they have not committed a violent crime, have established ties to their community, and are not classified as a flight risk. Defendants are usually granted ROR bail when the court determines that there is no need for additional conditions that would ensure the defendant’s appearance in court. The defendant is deemed trustworthy enough to appear for court on their own. ROR is mostly granted for defendants facing less serious charges who have little to no criminal history.

A majority of bail hearings result in the defendant being granted bail; it’s rare that bail is denied to defendants. To deny bail to a defendant, they must either be charged with aggravated murder or charged with a felony while other factors (such as being a flight risk) are present. For the most part, bail is denied in only the most extreme cases of violent offenders. Defendants charged with criminal homicide or another offense that carries a penalty of life in prison will be presumed to be denied bail unless the defendant can demonstrate they can meet conditions of release. But even if a defendant is granted bail, it doesn’t always mean that they will always be able to afford it. Bail for severe felonies can be set at hundreds of thousands of dollars, which isn’t feasible for many people.

Waiting in Jail on Remand Detention in Utah

If you are taken into custody in Utah and you can’t afford bail, you will be held in jail until your trial date. This period of awaiting trial is known as “remand detention” and it can last up to a few months. Luckily, there are limits to the length of time that you will have to wait in jail before you can go to court for trial. All Americans have the right to a speedy trial, which essentially means that the court must schedule a trial as quickly as possible after discussing the case with both the defense and the prosecution.

Generally, once a person is formally charged, prosecutors have a limited amount of time to bring them to trial. Otherwise, the defendant’s right to a speedy trial will be violated. If a defendant is detained because they could not afford to post bail, the courts will try to schedule their trial for as soon as possible. Everybody would get a trial this quickly in a perfect world, but courts tend to have very busy schedules making waiting times a bit longer.

There is no clear standard on how long a defendant may be made to wait for trial. Ideally, a defendant will receive a trial as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the courts do not always move as quickly as we want them to, and defendants may end up waiting in jail for a few months. The time you spend in jail waiting for trial, however, will ultimately count as time served on your sentence if you are found guilty. If you end up being held in remand detention, you will need an attorney who can advocate for you on the outside. If your detention lasts for too long, you will need a Utah criminal defense lawyer who can raise this issue with the court and hopefully get you released.

How Bail is Set in Utah

The most important factor that determines the amount of bail a defendant will have to pay is Utah’s bail schedule. The bail schedule is used to provide assistance to a sentencing judge while determining the appropriate fine or bail. According to the Utah Uniform Bail Schedule, bail for felonies ranges between $5,000 and $25,000, bail for misdemeanors ranges between $340 and $1,950, while bail for infractions that aren’t local ordinances is technically $100 but defendants are not usually held in jail for infractions. Bail will be set at a single amount, not at different amounts for individual charges. For example, if you are facing three charges, you will not have three different bail amounts. Instead, those amounts are combined into one bail amount.

When setting bail for a defendant, a judge will take the defendant’s criminal history into account. Defendants with good criminal history can expect much lower bail amounts than those who have a long criminal history. Judges consider the nature and severity of the crime that the defendant is being charged with, whether there is a restraining order against the defendant, whether the defendant violated probation or violated parole, whether the defendant committed the crime while released on bail for another crime, whether the defendant has connections to their community (e.g., family, workplace, community involvement), whether the defendant has a history of substance abuse, whether the defendant has a record of prior offenses, and the defendant’s character and reputation within their community while deciding on whether to set bail and how much to set it for.

Determining bail can feel like a balancing game by the courts. They are weighing positive factors that favor a lower bail, such as a lack of a criminal history or strong ties to your community, against negative factors, such as the severity of the crime and any prior convictions. To best protect your right to bail, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who can argue for reduced bail or for you to be released on recognizance.

How to Get a Bail Bond if You Can’t Afford Bail Yourself

If you can’t afford to pay bail yourself, it may be possible to use a bail bond.  Bail bonds work by asking the defendant to pay a percentage of their bail (or another type of suitable collateral, such as a car) while the bondsman pays the rest. The bail bondsman will have an agreement with the court that they will cover bail if the defendant fails to return to court for their court date. If the defendant doesn’t appear in court, the bondsman will do whatever they can to find the defendant and bring them back to the jurisdiction they fled from. Failing to appear in court after being released on bail can also result in bail-jumping charges in Utah. If the original charge was a misdemeanor, the bail-jumping charge will also be a misdemeanor; if the original charge was a felony, the bail-jumping charge will be a felony, too. Penalties for bail-jumping charges include fines up to $5,000 and up to 5 years in prison. Speak with a Salt Lake City lawyer for a referral for a bail bondsman about these types of charges.

Terms of bail for most defendants involve a refund of any money used to pay for bail if the defendant shows up for their hearing. However, if a defendant jumps bail, they may end up forfeiting that money, and it will not be refunded. If a defendant has failed to appear for court after making bail arrangements with a bondsman, the bondsman must bring the defendant back to court or else the bail is forfeited and the bondsman must pay. The bondsman has 90 days to return the defendant to court before forfeiture proceedings will begin. In many cases, the bondsman may ask the court for an additional 60 days to track you down, meaning a bondsman may be on your tail for the next 5 months if you jump bail.

Call Our Experienced Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorneys Today

The Utah criminal justice system can be complicated and difficult to navigate. If you have been taken into custody, whether or not you will be released on bail and the amount of time you’ll spend in jail will depend on a few factors. An experienced attorney can help you determine what those factors are and how they may apply to your case. Regardless of the circumstances of your case, your rights should be respected as your case moves through the legal system. Use the help of an experienced Murray criminal defense attorney from Overson Law, PLLC. Call them today at (801) 758-2287.