Being arrested for a crime can be a major source of worry and stress for anyone. The consequences of being convicted can be harsh and long-lasting, and your future may feel uncertain. These consequences can include time in prison, fines, community service, and the potential curtailing of some of your constitutional rights. Once you are arrested for a crime, whether it is a felony or misdemeanor, you should begin working on your defense. Your first step should be to contact an attorney that is well-versed in litigating the offenses you are facing. If you were arrested for a crime in Park City, Utah, you should consult with an experienced Park City criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
When you are faced with criminal proceedings, our attorneys are ready to help you out. We understand the criminal process can be frightening for many people, and we are here to alleviate your concerns. We will approach your situation with the professional care and discretion needed to give you the best shot at the best possible outcome for your case. Rest assured that we will leave no stone unturned when providing competent, professional criminal defense services.
To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your criminal case, contact our criminal defense lawyers from Overson & Bugden, at (801) 758-2287.
Criminal Charges Our Firm Defends in Park City
Whether you are arrested for a misdemeanor or a felony, it is vital to take your case seriously. A conviction for a misdemeanor or felony can follow you around for the rest of your life. If you need legal defense for any of the following criminal charges, you should consult with an experienced Park City criminal defense attorney today.
Property offenses can include a wide range of offenses from vandalism to arson. As you might expect, the severity of a property offense will depend on the circumstances of the offense. For example, if a defendant was charged with arson of a property, the crime could be graded as a felony that could result in over 10 years in prison if convicted. Additionally, if any individuals are injured in the arson, the grade of the offense could be dramatically increased.
Alternatively, a crime like vandalism of property is often treated as a misdemeanor that may land a defendant a few months in prison if convicted. However, you should still take the misdemeanor offense seriously and secure a Salt Lake City Criminal Defense lawyer who can guide you through the case. While a single misdemeanor offense may not seem like much, the penalties for multiple misdemeanors quickly add up and you could face significant fines and time behind bars.
When a person violates a traffic law, they are often served with an infraction. However, an increasing amount of traffic offenses can result in more severe penalties like the suspension of a license. For example, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is taken very seriously and has serious penalties attached, up to and including losing your driver’s license, fines, and jail time. This is especially tedious for a person who requires their license to commute to work or perform other activities. To avoid the possibility of having your license suspended or worse, you should work with an experienced attorney who can help you improve your situation.
Not only that, but minor traffic violations can become a huge problem when they are connected to a more significant criminal offense. Our Park City criminal defense lawyers can help you understand how your traffic tickets could affect your DUI proceedings.
Our firm also provides legal defense for a variety of violent crimes like assault or domestic violence. There are multiple types of assault that a defendant can be charged with. For instance, if a defendant was arrested for assault in a mutual fight, the defendant will likely be charged with a simple assault. Alternatively, if a defendant used a weapon to attack another person, a defendant will likely be charged with aggravated assault, which carries much stricter penalties.
If you were charged with a violent crime, there is a high chance that you are facing multiple years in prison if convicted. For example, a capital crime like murder could mean that a defendant is sentenced to over 20 years in prison or possibly even life. Our Park City criminal defense attorneys will work with you to try to reduce your charges or even have them dismissed.
White-collar crimes most often occur in a business or corporate setting. We often hear about Wall Street millionaires committing these kinds of crimes, but white-collar crimes can happen in any business, big or small. White-collar crimes like embezzlement and fraud can also seriously impact a defendant’s life. In addition to the heavy criminal penalties associated with these offenses, a defendant may have difficulty securing loans or jobs where they are required to manage money for others.
If you were arrested for any of the above crimes or another type of crime, our firm is here for you. To learn more about sentencing guidelines for misdemeanors and felonies in Utah, you should continue reading and speak with our experienced Park City criminal defense attorneys today.
Criminal Penalties for Misdemeanors and Felonies in Park City
Some offenses are always charged as a misdemeanor or always charged as a felony. However, some crimes may be charged as one or the other based on the facts of your case. The circumstances of your criminal case will determine whether your offense is graded as a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanors are crimes that carry sentences with a maximum of one year in jail, depending upon the type of misdemeanor a defendant is charged with. Felonies are crimes that result in more than one year in prison if convicted.
There are three types of misdemeanors in the State of Utah: Class C misdemeanors, Class B misdemeanors, and Class A misdemeanors. Class C misdemeanors are the least severe type of misdemeanor as it carries a maximum of 90 days in jail and $750 in fines. Class A misdemeanors are the most serious type of misdemeanor as it carries up to 364 days in jail and $2,500 in fines.
For felonies, third-degree felonies are the least severe, while first-degree felonies are the most severe. Third-degree felonies can carry up to five years in prison, while first-degree felonies have a maximum of life in prison if convicted. The fines for felonies are also substantially increased, with third-degree felonies having a maximum of $5,000 in fines. Alternatively, a conviction for a first-degree felony may result in $10,000 in fines.
Defenses in a Park City Criminal Case
In criminal proceedings, you are able to raise defenses to the charges against you. A defense is anything that challenges the prosecution’s findings and makes it more likely that you are innocent. As is fairly commonly known, prosecutors must prove a criminal case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is a fairly high standard of proof. Criminal defenses work by creating reasonable doubt in order to make the prosecutor’s claim unsustainable in a court of law. There are countless defenses for many different crimes. However, our criminal defense lawyers have compiled some of the most important defenses for Utah criminal cases below.
The most effective, and probably the most obvious, defense against a criminal charge is proof of your innocence. If you have very strong evidence that you did not commit the crime, the prosecution will not be able to win their case. If you can obtain this evidence earlier on in the process, you may even be able to have prosecutors drop the case before a trial date is even set.
Many different kinds of evidence can be used to establish innocence, including eyewitness testimony, forensic or DNA evidence, and even some seemingly unrelated physical evidence. For example, if you have a receipt from a restaurant you were eating at located a long distance away from where a murder took place, that receipt and time stamp can be used to support an argument that you were not anywhere near the victim when they were murdered.
In law, insanity means that the defendant was not able to parse what is right and what is wrong. Insanity is one of what are called “affirmative defenses.” These are defenses where you admit that you did the things that make up the crime you are accused of, but there are other circumstances that make it so that you cannot be convicted. Here, that circumstance is insanity.
Insanity is very hard to prove, and for that reason, it is seldom used without very convincing evidence, such as expert opinions and medical evaluations.
Self-Defense or Defense of Others
These two defenses are common in cases involving violent crimes like assault or manslaughter. This is a type of affirmative defense. You are admitting that you did the things that the prosecution alleges you did but that you did them with justification. In this case, the justification is defending yourself or another person. For example, if someone pointed a gun at your head and you then beat them up, you likely will be able to claim self-defense and avoid criminal charges.
However, Self-Defense will not apply in every situation. The level of force used needs to be proportionate to the danger or perceived danger. For example, if someone shoves you on the sidewalk and you “defend yourself” by beating them up until they are black and blue, you will likely not be able to claim self-defense.
Statute of Limitations
Statutes of limitations are time limits on how long parties have to file a lawsuit or try and convict someone of a crime. If the prosecution brings a case after the statute of limitations has run out, they cannot convict the defendant, even if they committed the crime.
Remember that statutes of limitations may be different depending on the crime. Some very serious crimes, like murder or rape, will not have a statute of limitations and can be prosecuted at any time.
If there were circumstances that made your conduct necessary, that can be used as a defense. For example, suppose you break into someone’s house when it is -40 degrees outside to avoid freezing to death. In that case, you may be able to use necessity as a defense against a break in charge. However, the same break-in during temperate weather probably would not create a viable necessity defense.
The Trial Process for Criminal Charges in Park City
The criminal justice process for even the least significant charges can be long and complex. Hiring an attorney as soon as possible is crucial to the success of your case. Our Park City criminal defense attorneys can evaluate your case’s facts and the evidence against you while also weighing the potential penalties of your criminal charges. Your trial process begins long before your actual trial. There are months or even years of preparation that go into a legal matter before prosecutors and defense attorneys ever make their arguments to a Jury. You will need a skilled lawyer by your side for guidance.
First Appearance and Arraignment
All criminal proceedings in Utah begin with the First Appearance and the Arraignment. For most misdemeanors, these events will happen at the same time. For felonies, however, the process is somewhat different. See below to learn about pre-trial felony hearings.
At the First Appearance, the defendant is informed of the charges against them and their rights during the criminal justice process. If you do not have an attorney at this point, the court may reschedule your Arraignment so you have time to consult with a lawyer.
You must enter a plea at the Arraignment. For misdemeanors, the Arraignment happens at the same time as the First Appearance. For felonies, the Arraignment will come later. You may enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Deciding on a plea is not always easy. You can plead not guilty if you want to fight your charges at a formal trial. You could also plead guilty and waive your trial rights if a favorable plea bargain is available. Your attorney can talk to you about entering a plea that is best for your situation.
For felony charges, defendants must go through a Preliminary Hearing where prosecutors must go the extra step of showing there is enough evidence to hold the defendant for trial. If the prosecutor does not meet this burden, we can request that your charges be reduced or dismissed. This stage of the process is crucial because it allows us the opportunity to persuade the court that a trial is unnecessary and there is insufficient evidence against you.
The Preliminary Hearing typically comes between the First Appearance and the Arraignment. It will also be scheduled separately, so the process takes a little longer than a misdemeanor case. If you are held over for trial, you will be arraigned and allowed to enter a plea.
If you end up going to trial, a trial date will be set at your Arraignment. There is usually some time between the Arraignment and the trial, so we have time to analyze the facts and evidence and submit pre-trial motions. These motions can influence your trial’s direction and may have a significant effect on the outcome of your case. Common pre-trial motions include motions to suppress unlawful evidence and modify bail, among others.
A motion to suppress is used to keep evidence out of the trial so a jury never sees it. Evidence may be suppressed when law enforcement obtained it unlawfully or in a way that violated your rights. Your Fourth Amendment rights are crucial to motions to suppress.
While you await trial, you may be held in jail if you cannot afford bail or you are not granted bail. When filing pre-trial motions, we can ask for a bail modification so you can get out of jail and be at home with your family during this incredibly stressful period. Speak with our Park City criminal defense lawyers about pre-trial motions and how they can be used to help your case.
The trial is what people are most familiar with about the criminal justice process. However, the trial is only one part of the entire process. At the trial, the prosecution must prove to a jury, or a judge in a bench trial, that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This burden is very high and prosecutors are not always successful.
Trial outcomes can be very unpredictable. If you are facing multiple charges, you could be convicted of some charges but not others. This means the penalties imposed at sentencing could vary greatly depending on the jury verdict. Our Park City criminal defense lawyers can fight your charges and work to have as many charges reduced or dismissed as possible.
If you are unfortunately convicted, or perhaps you accept a plea bargain, you will be sentenced by the court. Sentencing is not straightforward and judges often have some discretion as to what kind of sentence to impose. While judges tend to follow sentencing guidelines to prevent arbitrary and unfair sentencing, they can also weigh aggravating and mitigating factors.
If your case has more aggravating factors, like elements of violence or a lack of remorse, the judge may impose a higher sentence. If your case has more mitigating factors, like a clean criminal history, you may receive a lesser punishment. However, sentencing generally must fall within specific ranges set in sentencing guidelines. Our Park City criminal defense lawyers can help you get the most lenient sentence possible for your case.
A conviction is not the end of the game. You have the right to file an appeal if you believe any legal mistakes may have led to an unfair or unjust outcome. A direct appeal must be filed shortly after being convicted and sentenced. If you miss this deadline, you may waive your appellate rights. The appellate court will review a record of your case for legal errors or mistakes. No new evidence or arguments are heard at this time. If successful, you may be granted a new trial.
If you are unsuccessful in your direct appeal, you may be able to file a petition for relief under Utah’s Post-Conviction Remedies Act (PCRA). The PCRA provides for more specific and limited appellate options. However, this type of appeal can be taken much later and for reasons you may not have fully realized at the time of your first appeal. Speak with our Park City criminal defense lawyers about what kind of appeal is right for you.
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or other less serious crime in a “justice court,” you can file a special kind of appeal called a “de novo” appeal. This is essentially a do-over of your trial, which is different from other kinds of appeals which only try to correct legal errors and mistakes. Under Utah law, these appeals must be filed within 28 days of a conviction per Utah Code § 78A-7-118.
If you were arrested and charged with a crime in Park City, Utah, you should contact an experienced Park City criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Overson & Bugden, is here to listen to the details of your case to formulate a legal defense that works for you. Our firm has handled a wide variety of criminal cases, and we are ready to fight for you.
Consult with Our Committed Park City Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your criminal case, contact our criminal defense lawyers from Overson & Bugden, at (801) 758-2287.