Shortly after a person has been arrested for a crime in Utah, they will go through an arraignment. The arrangement is generally where a criminal defendant is formally informed of the charges against them. Exactly what happens at your arraignments will depend upon the types of offenses you are charged with. The process can be a little confusing. You might feel as if you are being put on trial before you are ready.
Remember, the arraignment is not your trial, but it is one important step that will lead to your trial. You must hire a skilled and experienced attorney to help you at every phase of the criminal justice process, not just your trial. Our lawyer for criminal arraignments in Ogden, UT is here to help you through your arraignment and navigate the criminal justice process. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 to ask our team about a free legal consultation about your case.
What is a Criminal Arraignment in Ogden, UT?
The arraignment occurs relatively early in the criminal justice process. It is probably the first court hearing you will have after your arrest and the first time you will encounter a judge and the prosecutor. An arraignment is the hearing at which you will be told precisely what you are charged with. What happens beyond that is determined by your charges.
Arraignments After a Citation
Offenses that result in a citation do not have formal arraignment hearings. Usually, the citation provides all the information you would otherwise obtain at an arraignment. The citation will tell you the nature of your charges and when your hearing is if a hearing is in order. The citation acts as a summons for your first court appearance. It will also inform you of any deadlines for things like payments of fines. Generally, agreeing to pay the fine associated with the citation will be construed as a guilty plea. If you wish to fight the citation, you must show up to the court date listed on the citation. Citations are common for small infractions like traffic violations or underage drinking.
Arraignments for a Misdemeanor
Arraignments for misdemeanors are more formal and more serious than a citation. After you are arrested and booked on misdemeanor charges, you will have your arraignment in a courtroom in front of a judge with a prosecutor present. After you are informed of the charges against you, the judge will ask you to enter a plea. You should definitely discuss your plea with an attorney ahead of time. If you do not yet have an attorney, the judge may reschedule your arraignment for a later date, allowing you time to retain counsel. Our lawyer for criminal arraignments in Ogden, UT can represent you during your arraignment and help you make the best plea for your case.
Arraignments for a Felony
Felony arraignments work very similar to misdemeanor arraignment with one key difference. A felony arraignment comes later in the criminal justice process after your preliminary hearing. Due to the more severe nature of felony charges, there is an extra step in the trial process that makes sure the government has sufficient evidence against you before proceeding. At a preliminary hearing, the prosecutor must present enough evidence against you to convince a judge that a trial is warranted. Not only that but at your preliminary hearing, depending on the evidence presented by the prosecutor, the judge may decide to drop some charges while keeping others. Only the charges remaining will be heard at your arraignment.
Types of Pleas for Criminal Cases in Ogden, UT
You will be given a chance to enter a plea at your arraignment. There are three types of pleas you can enter, each with different outcomes. First, you can plead not guilty. This plea means you wish to challenge your charges and the evidence against you at a trial. Entering a plea of not guilty may seem like an obvious choice, but it can be a bit intimidating. By pleading not guilty, you walk into what could be a very long and arduous trial process. However, if you are unsure about how to plea, pleading not guilty might be a smart move. Later on, if you decide you do not want a trial, you can always change your plea.
You may also choose to plead guilty at your arraignment, thereby waiving your right to a trial and triggering the sentencing phase. Pleading guilty can be used strategically. It is common for prosecutors to offer plea deals to defendants who plead guilty. In exchange for a guilty plea, prosecutors might dismiss some charges or request more lenient punishments from the judge. This may be a desirable alternative to enduring a trial where the outcome is more uncertain.
Finally, you have the option of pleading no contest. This plea has a similar effect to a guilty plea, but it comes with a few additional strings attached. First, a plea of no contest means you are not challenging the charges and you waive your right to a trial, thus allowing the judge to begin the sentencing phase. However, unlike a guilty plea, a defendant who pleads no contest is not admitting guilt. Instead, they are declining to challenge the charges against them. A no contest plea serves to protect the defendant from later civil litigation regarding their criminal actions. Our attorney for criminal arraignments in Ogden, UT can work with you to determine what lea works best for your situation.
What Comes After a Criminal Arraignment in Ogden?
After your arraignments, pre-trial preparations will commence. We can file motions to do things like suppress the prosecution’s evidence or prevent certain witnesses from testifying during this time. If a plea deal was not previously reached or had not been extended, one may be negotiated at this point. Depending on the nature of your charges, we may be able to convince a judge to allow you to participate in a diversion program during this time. Completing a diversion program would result in your charges being dismissed and you would not have to go through a trial. For help handling your case, call our attorney for criminal arraignments in Ogden, UT.
Contact Our Ogden Arraignment Attorney for a Legal Consultation
If you have been arrested for a criminal offense in Utah and are awaiting further proceedings, get in contact with our lawyer for criminal arraignments in Ogden, UT. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 to ask our staff about scheduling a free legal consultation regarding your case.