Criminal charges can have a massive ripple effect on every aspect of your life. A criminal conviction could preclude you from jobs, make it harder to find a place to live, and even cost you your driver’s license. Fighting criminal charges can feel like an uphill battle, and you may benefit from an attorney’s assistance.
Criminal penalties are no laughing matter. Even relatively short sentences will be forever reflected in your criminal record. A criminal record might cost you certain job opportunities in the future. There is also a severe and unfair social stigma surrounding criminal convictions. An attorney can help you avoid these penalties and more.
If you stand charged with a crime, our Lehi criminal defense lawyers can help you protect your rights and your good name. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for help. Our team can offer a free initial case evaluation to get your case started.
How Our Lehi Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help
While criminal defendants are not required to be represented by a lawyer, most defendants are not prepared to handle their cases alone. Our Lehi criminal defense lawyers can help you fight your charges. While a lawyer will certainly be helpful at your trial, there are numerous pre-trial hearings and proceedings that you need to get through first. These pre-trial hearings are often good opportunities to strengthen your case.
If you or one of your loved ones was arrested for a felony or misdemeanor in Lehi, you can depend on criminal defense attorney Darwin Overson for aggressive legal representation. Darwin has over 16 years of legal experience defending thousands of clients and has handled a wide array of serious criminal charges, including the following:
- Drug Distribution
- Drug Manufacturing
- Drug Possession
- DUI (Driving Under the Influence)
- Sexual Assault
If you’ve been charged with a crime, the time to take legal action is now. The sooner you begin working with an attorney to figure out an effective legal defense strategy, the better. The criminal justice process involves far more than just a trial, and there are many important phases to get through before you get to a trial.
What Happens After an Arrest in Lehi, UT for Criminal Charges?
After a person is arrested in Utah, they will be taken into custody by the arresting officers. Once in custody, the person will go through “booking,” which involves taking a mugshot photo, fingerprinting, and determining whether there are any existing warrants for the person’s arrest.
A person can only be held at the Summit County Detention Center (or any other jail or holding center in Utah) for 72 hours, at which point the prosecutor must file charges or release the person being held. Extensions on the 72-hour deadline may be challenged as unconstitutional. Call our Lehi criminal defense lawyers immediately if you or a loved one has been held for over 72 hours.
While TV and movies focus on the trial aspect of criminal charges, the trial is just one step in a more detailed process. If the charges pertain to a felony, the first step is aptly named the first appearance. This is when the charges are formally announced and the defendant is read their rights. The first appearance is followed by a preliminary hearing when the judge decides if there is probable cause to justify continuing with the case. If there is insufficient evidence, the charges will be dismissed at this stage.
If the charges involve a misdemeanor, the first step in the court process is the arraignment, when the defendant will enter a plea. While several other types exist, most pleas are either “guilty” or “not guilty.” If the defendant pleads “not guilty,” the court will usually schedule a pre-trial conference and trial. Prior to trial, attorneys from both sides can file pre-trial motions, which involve legal requests to the judge (e.g., motions to suppress evidence). In some but not all cases, the defendant enters plea bargaining negotiations with the prosecuting attorney.
How Should I Plea for Criminal Charges in Lehi?
Entering a plea is a significant step in your criminal process. There are three ways to enter a plea. First, you can plead not guilty. This will trigger a trial and various other hearings. Alternatively, you can plead guilty, waive your right to a trial, and move directly to sentencing. Finally, you can enter a plea of no contest. This plea acts as a guilty plea but is not an admission of fault that could be used against you in a related civil hearing.
You might be wondering why on earth you would want to enter a guilty plea. While most defendants are eager to fight their charges, some cases are more easily fought than others. Pleading guilty as part of a plea bargain can be an effective defense strategy to reduce your overall sentence and penalties.
Guilty pleas are often associated with plea agreements. In such an agreement, you would enter a guilty plea, and the prosecutor would agree to reduce your charges in some way. In the end, you get a lesser sentence than if you were found guilty at trial, and the prosecutor has one less case to worry about. If you are interested in this, our Lehi criminal defense attorneys can talk to you about negotiating a plea agreement.
Even if you know right away how you want to enter your plea, discuss the matter with your lawyer first. It is in your best interest to examine your case from every possible angle, even if it involves possibly pleading guilty. Moreover, you should never enter a guilty plea without first talking to a lawyer about the consequences.
How Do I Fight My Criminal Charges in Lehi?
There are a wide variety of criminal charges on the books in Utah. As such, there are numerous ways to approach your case and develop defense strategies. Every case is unique and should be thoroughly discussed with an attorney as soon as possible. Our Lehi criminal defense lawyers can help you challenge your case and protect your rights.
Pre-trial motions are a common tool lawyers use to fight their client’s criminal charges. In a criminal case, criminal investigations allow police to gather evidence. Depending on the circumstances, these investigations might take a long time to complete or be completed relatively quickly. Whenever the police collect evidence, they must adhere to strict rules to avoid violating the defendant’s rights. Evidence collected in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights can be challenged and kept out of court.
A pre-trial motion known as a motion to suppress can be used to prevent illegal evidence from being used against you. If key pieces of evidence were seized illegally, we can suppress them, and prosecutors might be left scrambling with little evidence left on their side. In that case, we can persuade prosecutors to reduce your charges or even drop the case entirely.
When all else fails, we can always fight for you at trial. Trials are incredibly serious hearings, and juries are not to convict unless prosecutors can prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. First, we can help you present evidence and arguments that support your innocence and cut against the prosecution’s evidence. Second, we can work to prevent prosecutors from using unjust tactics that might violate your rights. For example, prosecutors might attempt to sneak illegal evidence through or bend rules of evidence to work against you. We can object and prevent that evidence from being used against you. If your trial is tainted by illegal evidence, we can move for a mistrial and work to get a new trial before a new jury.
Fines, Sentencing, and Other Criminal Penalties in Lehi
In Utah, there are two types of crimes: misdemeanors, which are lesser offenses, and felonies, which are more serious offenses. While the penalties for felonies are more severe, a conviction of either type of crime can result in extremely expensive fines, a long jail or prison term, and other penalties. A conviction will also lead to a permanent criminal record, which can, unfortunately, create major obstacles in terms of getting hired, earning professional licenses, or being approved for certain loans.
Misdemeanors in Utah are divided into “classes.” Class C misdemeanors are the least serious, while Class A misdemeanors are the most serious. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you could face up to a year of incarceration and over $2,000 in fines, depending on the offense. In Utah, a misdemeanor conviction may include the following penalties:
- Class C Misdemeanor
- Sentence — Up to 90 days
- Fine — Up to $750
- Class B Misdemeanor
- Sentence — Up to 6 months
- Fine — Up to $1,000
- Class A Misdemeanor
- Sentence — Up to 1 year
- Fine — Up to $2,500
Felonies in Utah are labeled by “degree.” Third-degree felonies are the least serious, though still subject to very severe penalties, while first-degree felonies are the most serious. If you are convicted of a felony, you could face life in prison and $10,000 in fines, depending on the offense. Our Lehi criminal defense attorneys can help you with both felony and misdemeanor charges. Criminal penalties for a felony in Utah include the following:
- Third Degree Felony
- Sentence — Up to 5 years
- Fine — Up to $5,000
- Second Degree Felony
- Sentence — Up to 15 years
- Fine — Up to $10,000
- First Degree Felony
- Sentence — Up to life in prison
- Fine — Up to $10,000
When Should I Hire a Lehi Criminal Defense Attorney?
The criminal justice process begins long before your trial is even scheduled. In fact, most people consider an arrest to be the first step in the criminal justice process. The sooner you contact an attorney about your case, the better. Even if you have not been arrested yet, but you suspect an arrest s imminent, call a Lehi criminal defense lawyer.
When criminal defendants do not have the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer, they are very vulnerable to law enforcement and prosecutors overstepping their boundaries. You might not know your rights and how prosecutors can infringe upon them. This may even lead you to give up protections you did not know about. Having a lawyer by your side as soon as possible helps protect you from day one.
Your first opportunity to contact an attorney might come shortly after arrest. You will be taken into custody, booked, and questioned. Before questioning while in custody, the police are required to read you your Miranda rights, which list your right to an attorney and your right to remain silent. You should invoke both of these rights immediately. Do not answer any questions from the police until our Lehi criminal defense attorneys can get to you.
After discussing your situation with your lawyer, you will be better informed about how to protect yourself. At that point, you and your lawyer can sit down with the police and answer questions or refuse to answer any questions at all.
If this stage has come and gone and you still do not have an attorney, you should call one right away. While it is better to hire a lawyer as soon as possible, it is never too late to seek out legal representation.
Call Our Lehi Criminal Defense Lawyers for Help
If you or a loved one is currently facing criminal charges, contact our Lehi criminal defense attorneys immediately. We can help you fight your charges and assert your rights. To set up a free initial case evaluation, call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 right away.