What to Do if You’re Charged with a Crime in Utah But Live in Another State

Utah is a heavily toured place. People visit from all over for the skiing and cultural attractions. People can – and very frequently do – come to Utah to visit, commit crimes, and then return to their home states. A non-resident’s crime, unless it is an outstanding case, will be treated under Utah law, not the state that they’re a resident of.

Non-residents of Utah who commit crimes in the state will still need to face the consequences of their crimes, just like a Utah resident, whether by working with an attorney in Utah or returning to the state to appear in court. For those who live very far away, perhaps on the other side of the country, returning to face criminal charges may be difficult. However, it might be possible to handle your charges without returning to Utah from your home state.

If you live in another state but have been criminally charged in Utah, our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer Darwin Overson of Overson & Bugden can help you handle your case. Call our offices at (801) 758-2287 to discuss your charges with our experienced team. You need a skilled Utah attorney to handle your Utah criminal charges.

Common Criminal Charges for Out-of-State Visitors to Utah

A state’s laws apply to all people within that state’s borders, including people visiting but living in a different state. While all the states tend to follow some very similar laws, some laws are unique to some states and not others. For example, around the Fourth of July, people sometimes get into trouble because fireworks are illegal in some states but not others.

Many people encounter criminal charges when they are on vacation. While taking a holiday, people sometimes focus a bit too much on having fun and not enough on staying out of trouble. Alcohol use and criminal charges tend to go hand-in-hand, especially for tourists on vacation. Being drunk and disorderly in public, fighting, DUIs, and other crimes closely associated with alcohol are commonly charged against tourists.

However, sometimes people come to Utah with the intent of committing certain crimes. The drug trafficking industry is nationwide, and people often travel all over the country to traffic different controlled substances. It is not unheard of for visitors to come to Utah to either buy or sell drugs. More serious offenses can include human trafficking, homicide, or kidnapping.

Perhaps the most common offenses that plague out-of-state visitors to Utah are traffic violations. Traffic citations are very common and often happen because of absentminded driving rather than some nefarious intent. Traffic violations can be extremely serious and may be connected with other criminal charges. In most cases, traffic citations are minor violations punished with fines or points on your license. No matter how serious or minor your charges may be, you can call our Logan criminal defense attorneys for help.

Will You Have to Show Up for Criminal Court in Utah if You Live Out of State?

Whether or not a defendant will have to return to Utah to appear in court depends on the severity of the crime they’ve allegedly committed. If a defendant is charged with a misdemeanor (which includes minor crimes such as traffic violations, petty theft, and marijuana possession) in the state of Utah, then it is easier for them to engage with the court. They may not even have to leave their home state to face the consequences.

If a defendant has been charged with a misdemeanor, then they will be able to send a local attorney to attend court in their place. This attorney must be licensed to practice law in the state of Utah. This local attorney will stand in for the defendant in court, the results of which will be communicated to the defendant. The defendant will then have to serve any imposed sentences or penalties.

If a defendant has been charged with a felony (which includes more serious crimes, such as burglary, rape, murder, or kidnapping), the defendant can post bail, which might allow them to leave the state of Utah with the assurance that they will return for their court date. If they appear for their court date, the bail will be refunded. If the defendant fails to appear in court, then the court will keep the bail money, and a bench warrant against the defendant will be issued, in addition to their outstanding charges.

Extradition costs (e.g. a flight and hotel) will be covered initially by the state treasury. However, if you are found guilty, the cost will need to be paid back to the state on top of other fines and penalties.

How to Respond to the Issuance of a Court Date After Committing a Crime in Utah

All crimes committed in Utah by non-residents and residents alike will result in a court date at which the defendant is expected to appear. The easiest response for a defendant in this situation is to appear in court (or, if the crime is a misdemeanor, to send an attorney licensed to practice law in Utah to appear in their place) at the appointed time and accept the administered consequences. Defendants are encouraged to use the help of an attorney throughout the process if needed.

Defendants who live far from Utah might convince themselves that it might be possible to ignore their charges. This will ultimately not turn out to be in the defendant’s best interest; the charges are very likely to affect their lives at some point. If the defendant fails to appear in court for any reason, an arrest warrant will be issued. This is known as a “fugitive from justice” warrant and is issued when someone fails to engage with the courts regarding criminal charges, even if they live in the state where they are charged.

These warrants will follow a defendant wherever they live and can be found by police during a search, which may result in an arrest. Technology has made it incredibly easy for the police in any state to find your outstanding warrants during any routine traffic stop. Defendants may be held in custody until Utah officers retrieve the defendant to be brought back to Utah. Alternatively, police finding a warrant can result in extradition, which could result in the defendant being sent back to Utah to appear in court, depending on the severity of the crime. These warrants are also visible in background checks while applying for housing or a job.

It should be noted that, although there may be a statute of limitations on prosecution for the crime itself, there is no statute of limitations in place for warrants of arrest; they never expire and can follow you around for the rest of your life.

Can I Leave Utah After Posting Bail?

When people are arrested and charged with crimes, they have the opportunity to post bail. By posting bail, a defendant is released from jail while they await trial. If defendants cannot post bail or bail is denied, the defendant must await their trial from behind bars. One question many out-of-state defendants want to be answered is whether they can leave Utah and return home while out on bail.

The answer to this question is sometimes yes, sometimes no. Whether or not you can leave the state after posting bail is dependent on the severity of your charges and whether the court believes you to be a serious flight risk. These are also the same factors used to determine whether a defendant may be granted bail in the first place.

The majority of defendants are granted bail in Utah. Bail is denied only for the most heinous of offenses, like murder. If your charges are for misdemeanor offenses or other non-serious crimes, you will likely be permitted to return to your home state while out on bail. However, courts are free to impose bail restrictions that, if violated, will send you back to jail to await your trial. More serious felony offenses are more likely to come with travel restrictions that prevent a defendant from leaving the state.

Travel restrictions as part of your bail conditions can pose a serious burden. Defendants who are the primary supporters of their households need to leave Utah so they can provide for their families back home. Our Ogden criminal defense attorneys can argue for the least restrictive bail conditions so you can return to your home state before your trial begins.

Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney in Utah Without Coming to Utah

You definitely will want to deal with your criminal charges in Utah. If you do not, they will absolutely come back to haunt you in the future. However, you might not want to come back to Utah. Perhaps you have a family in another state that needs you, or you are afraid the Utah police could pick you up. Whatever the case may be, you need to hire a Utah attorney to help you.

Hiring an attorney is often a very serious matter. Attorneys handle very important matters regardless of what area of law they work in. Hiring an attorney without meeting them in person might feel similar to buying a house without walking through it first. However, our Utah criminal defense attorneys can handle your case and communicate with you over the phone, through emails, and through any other correspondence that works for you. With the available technology, communication with a local Utah attorney can be incredibly easy. Speak with our Layton criminal defense attorneys for help with your charges.

Extradition to Utah from Other States for Criminal Charges

If you are charged with a crime in Utah and then flee to another state, you risk being extradited back to Utah. Extradition laws allow the state’s law enforcement agents to which you fled to arrest you and send you back to the state in which you are criminally charged. This is a unique process because, ordinarily, the law enforcement agencies of each state must respect state boundaries. The powers of a particular state’s police force do not ordinarily extend past its borders.

If you are criminally charged in Utah, you will likely be released on bail and scheduled to make numerous court appearances. If you choose to leave the state in the hopes of ignoring your charges, the Utah courts will issue a bench warrant for your arrest. If and when you are picked up by law enforcement in another state, the courts in Utah will be notified, and extradition may be arranged.

Additionally, your prosecution is not limited to the charges for which you were extradited. Any other pending or new criminal charges you have in Utah may also come into play at this time. You might also have a hard time getting bail, especially if you had to be extradited for skipping bail in the first place. The court may perceive you as a flight risk and keep you locked up until your trial.

What to Do When You Have Criminal Charges in Utah and Another State

It is not uncommon for a defendant charged with a crime in Utah to also have criminal charges in a different state. When criminal charges are pending in different states, this can complicate the extradition process. Ultimately, the defendant must be tried for their charges in both states, but that begs the question, which state gets to try them first?

If a defendant is currently in Utah, then the Utah authorities have a choice to make. They can either hold the defendant until their charges in Utah have been resolved or extradite them to the other state and resolve the Utah charges later. If the defendant is in another state, that other state will probably have to make a similar decision. The state that gets to try you first will likely be the state with the more serious charges. For example, if you are wanted for felony charges in Utah but only misdemeanor charges in Nevada, Utah will probably handle your case first. Our Utah criminal defense attorneys can help you work through your Utah charges.

Where Will a Non-Resident of Utah Serve Their Sentence if Convicted?

Unless you are currently being held in prison in another state for different criminal charges, you will probably have to serve your sentence for Utah charges in a Utah prison. This is why it is important for defendants facing felony charges to appear at their court dates and hearings. If convicted, they will have to leave their home state and serve their sentence in Utah. This is also why the courts generally allow people to let attorneys handle misdemeanor charges without making an appearance because misdemeanor charges can be negotiated down to not carry a prison term.

If you are convicted of crimes in Utah and another state, and you must serve prison time in both, this is where things get tricky. Depending on the nature of your criminal charges in each state, your prison terms could run consecutively or concurrently. Concurrent prison terms would allow you to serve multiple terms at once. This could mean that while you serve time in another state’s prison, that time also counts to your Utah prison sentence. However, if the terms run consecutively, you will have to finish serving one term before serving the other in the second state.

Our qualified Lehi criminal defense attorneys can help persuade a judge to allow you to serve your term concurrently with any other prison terms you may have to serve. This would allow you to get through both your sentences more quickly than if you had to serve them separately.

Expunging a Utah Criminal Record When Living in Another State

We often assume that criminal records are always permanent, and every criminal conviction will live forever. While it is true that criminal convictions do not simply go away after you have served your sentence, there is a process by which you can remove them from your record. Expunging criminal convictions is usually challenging, but it can be worth the effort to wipe a conviction from your record. Once expunged, a criminal conviction is treated as though it did not happen.

If you were convicted of a crime in Utah but live in another state, you must have your record expunged in Utah. Each state might have different rules and procedures for expungements, and it is crucial that you speak with a Utah attorney about your case. Our Utah criminal defense lawyers can help you apply to have a criminal conviction expunged from your record.

Expungements do not happen automatically, and petitioners must apply to have a conviction wiped out. The process can take time, as hundreds of expungement applications are filed every month. You might also have to return to Utah to stand before a judge in a formal hearing regarding your expungement application. If you meet the criteria for expungement, the judge may grant your request. However, expungements are not guaranteed, and the judge could deny your application. It is best to proceed with our skilled Park City criminal defense attorneys who can navigate Utah’s expungement procedures.

How Utah Traffic Citations Affect an Out-of-State Driver’s License

It was mentioned above that traffic violations are very common offenses charged against out-of-state visitors to Utah. Many people traveling through Utah for business or pleasure end up getting pulled over and cited by the police. Typically, one state cannot affect a driver’s license issued by a different state. For example, Utah cannot assess points against a California driver’s license. However, out-of-state drivers should not disregard Utah traffic violations.

Nearly all states, including Utah, are members of the Driver’s License Compact. The Compact is like a nationwide agreement between the states that a traffic violation assessed in one state will be honored in the other states. Basically, if you are cited for running a red light in Utah but you live in Arizona, your home state will be notified of your violation and assess its own penalties. Most often, the penalties assessed by your home state will be the same or similar to those assessed by Utah.

If you wish to challenge your traffic citation, you must do so in Utah with the help of a Utah lawyer. Our Utah criminal defense attorneys can provide you with any assistance you need for your Utah criminal charges and other violations.

Our Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help

If you have been charged with a crime in Utah but live in another state, it’s best to face the charges directly. Attempting to avoid the charges will lead to more trouble with the law. Call Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287 to speak with our lawyers about your Utah criminal charges in a free review of your case.