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

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

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. Read on to learn how our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer Darwin Overson of Overson Law, PLLC can help out-of-state defendants deal with their criminal charges in Utah.

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 their 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 will 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 to be 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 that live a far distance 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, for any reason, the defendant fails to appear in court, an arrest warrant will be issued. This is known as a “fugitive from justice” warrant and is issued when a person, even if they are a resident of the state in which they committed a crime, fails to engage with the courts in pursuance of consequences for their crime.

These warrants will follow a defendant to 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, depending on the severity of the crime, could result in the defendant being sent back to Utah to appear in court. 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 are no statute of limitations in place for warrants of arrest; they never expire and can follow you around for the rest of your life.

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 actually come back to Utah. Perhaps you have a family in another state that needs you, or you are afraid you could be picked up by the Utah police. 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 technology that is available, communication with a local Utah attorney can be incredibly easy. Speak with our Utah 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 permit the law enforcement agents of the state 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 very 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 all that 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 at a later date. If the defendant is in another state, that other state will probably have to make a similar decision. It is likely that the state that gets to try you first will 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 want to 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 make an appearance 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 having to make an appearance because misdemeanor charges can be negotiated down as 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 in one state before serving the other term in the second state.

A qualified Utah criminal defense attorney 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.

Our Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help

If you have been charged with a crime in the state of Utah and you 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, which will cost you even more time and money. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287to set up a confidential and free legal consultation about your Utah criminal charges.