Criminal charges can change every aspect of your life in the blink of an eye. Most defendants do not have any experience with Utah’s legal system and begin the process feeling completely lost and overwhelmed. If a loved one or family member was arrested in Provo, there are probably dozens of questions on your mind, like “How long can my loved one be held in custody?” or “What could happen if my loved one is convicted?”
Luckily, our lawyers are here to help. We can work closely with you or your loved one to fight for the best possible outcome for your case. In matters as serious as criminal charges, you can settle for nothing less than the most competent, professional, and aggressive legal representation, which we are more than happy to provide. We can even make emergency visits to jail or other centers where you or your loved one may be.
Call our Provo criminal defense attorneys with Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287 right away to set up a free, totally confidential case consultation.
Crimes Handled by Our Provo Criminal Defense Lawyer
Our criminal defense lawyers have over 16 years of experience representing many different clients across Utah. We have represented clients accused of a wide variety of misdemeanors and felonies as both adult and juvenile defendants, including:
Domestic violence is defined under Utah Code § 77-36-1(4) as one of a series of criminal offenses that involve physical violence committed against a cohabitant. A cohabitant is usually someone you live with. This traditionally includes spouses, offspring, or other family members. However, in some cases, a cohabitant can be someone you do not live with but are or were in a relationship with. For example, if you and your significant other live apart, you may be considered cohabitants for the purposes of a domestic violence charge. In this case, you might not literally live together, but the fact that this is still allegedly intimate partner violence puts it under the category of “domestic violence.”
There are many different kinds of drug crimes. However, the two main ones are simple possession and possession with intent to distribute. Both are outlined under Utah Code § 58-37-8.
Simple possession means that you have possession of the drug. While having cocaine in your pocket would certainly apply here, it also includes having possession not directly on your person, such as in your closet or underneath your car seat.
Possession with intent to distribute takes it a step further, requiring that the prosecution prove that you were meaning to distribute or sell the drugs you had. So, for example, if a bag full of meth was labeled with a buyer’s name or phone number, that would be evidence of intent to distribute. Drugs stored alongside cash, scales, and baggies breaking up the amount into sellable quantities is also proof that the drugs were prepared to be sold.
Driving under the influence is a serious crime in every state. It can result in the loss or suspension of your license, fines, or time in prison.
Murder is fairly self-explanatory: it is the unlawful killing of another person. As a clear-cut example, planning a hit on someone and shooting them in the face is murder. Manslaughter is like murder, but there are mitigating circumstances. For example, handing someone a gun while playing Russian roulette that ends up killing them would likely be considered manslaughter. There may not be direct intent to kill, but it was reckless behavior that was very likely to cause someone to lose their life.
Negligent homicide is yet another step removed. It refers to death caused by “criminal negligence.” For example, leaving a loaded firearm unsecured in the presence of a young child may lead to negligent homicide charges if the child accidentally kills someone with that weapon.
No criminal charges are too big or too small for our Provo criminal defense attorney to handle. Contact our office for a legal consultation as soon as possible.
Figuring Out Bail After Being Arrested for Criminal Charges in Provo
After an arrest is made, the arresting officers will bring the person into custody. After being taken into custody, the person will be “booked,” which means police will compile information about the suspect and alleged crime. During booking, the suspect will be photographed and fingerprinted, and their personal items will be confiscated.
If no charges have been filed by the prosecutor, the person should not be held in custody for more than 72 hours. It’s not unusual for the Utah County Attorney’s Office to file for an extension on this 72-hour period, though these extensions can be challenged by our lawyers.
Generally speaking, people awaiting trial at the Utah County Jail are eligible to be released on bail. Bail may be cash-only or bondable, which means that a bail bond can be used. Excessive bail is unconstitutional, so you should seek legal assistance if you think your loved one’s bail amount is unreasonably high. If the defendant fails to return for future court appearances after being released on bail, the judge can issue a bench warrant for the person’s arrest.
If you were arrested and need help at your bail hearing, reach out to our Provo criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can. We can help you keep your bail as low as possible so you can return home to your family as you await your trial.
Pre-Trial Stages for Criminal Charges in Provo
The trial itself is never the first step in the court process after an arrest. In fact, there are many steps that take place before trial. These steps include arraignment, which is when the defendant enters their plea (e.g. “guilty,” “not guilty”), and, in some cases, plea bargaining, which involves negotiation between the defense and prosecution. If the person was arrested for a felony, there are additional steps called the first appearance and preliminary hearing at the outset of the process.
The pre-trial process looks a bit different for misdemeanors and felonies. For a misdemeanor, your arraignment occurs at your first appearance. At this hearing, you are formally informed of the criminal charges against you and you are advised of your rights by the judge. If you do not already have an attorney, you will also be informed about your right to counsel. Usually, the court will allow you some more time to hire an attorney before moving forward. For misdemeanors, you will also be given the opportunity to enter a plea at this stage.
It is crucial to speak with your attorney before entering your plea, as it will affect the rest of your trial going forward. A plea of not guilty will lead to a trial. A plea of guilty will waive your right to a trial and you will move straight to sentencing. A plea of no contest has the effect of a plea of not guilty but cannot be used against you in a related civil matter.
For felonies, no plea is entered at the first appearance. Instead, a preliminary hearing is scheduled for a later date. At the preliminary hearing, the prosecutor must prove to the court that enough probable cause exists to hold the defendant over for trial. If the prosecutor fails to meet this burden, the case is dismissed, and the defendant is released. However, if the prosecutor is successful, the defendant will enter a plea, and a trial will be scheduled. Our Provo criminal defense attorney can help you through this process for both felonies and misdemeanors.
Plea Bargaining in Criminal Hearings in Provo
Plea bargaining often begins relatively early in the criminal justice process but can carry on throughout the trial. A plea bargain is like an agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor. The defendant will agree to plead guilty and waive their right to a trial. The prosecutor will agree to reduce the charges against the defendant or recommend a lighter sentence in exchange.
Plea bargains are not a required part of the process and are offered at the discretion of prosecutors. Many cases are resolved through plea bargains because prosecutors are extremely busy and do not have time to put every single defendant on trial. However, prosecutors may not choose to offer a plea bargain and take you to trial instead.
Plea bargains, when they are offered, are negotiable. We do not have to accept the offer on the prosecutor’s terms. If you are open to a plea bargain but you want more favorable terms, we can work things out with the prosecutor. If you think a plea bargain is best for your case, speak with our Provo criminal defense lawyer about arranging a deal with the prosecutor.
Criminal Penalties for a Criminal Conviction in Provo
Crimes fall into one of two categories in Utah: misdemeanors, which are less severe offenses such as reckless driving and shoplifting under $300, and felonies, which are serious offenses like sexual assault and homicide.
Misdemeanors and felonies are both divided into several different categories. Misdemeanors are assigned alphabetical “classes,” while felonies are given numbered “degrees.” Some offenses, such as assault, can be a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the factors that were present when the crime was allegedly committed. Factors that enhance sentencing, like committing a crime on school property, are called “aggravating factors.”
Utah criminal penalties are listed below:
First Degree Felony
- Sentence — Up to life in prison
- Fine — Up to $10,000
Second Degree Felony
- Sentence — Up to 15 years in prison
- Fine — Up to $10,000
Third Degree Felony
- Sentence — Up to 5 years in prison
- Fine — Up to $5,000
Class A Misdemeanor
- Sentence — Up to 1 year in jail
- Fine — Up to $2,500
Class B Misdemeanor
- Sentence — Up to 6 months in jail
- Fine — Up to $1,000
Class C Misdemeanor
- Sentence — Up to 90 days in jail
- Fine — Up to $750
Despite carrying lesser penalties than felonies, misdemeanors are still capable of resulting in stiff fines, incarceration, and the creation of a criminal record. Depending on which type of offense is involved, the defendant might also receive other penalties, such as the following:
- Criminal restitution, which is paid toward the victim.
- Mandatory community service.
- Mandatory installation of a breathalyzer device in their personal vehicle.
- Mandatory registration as a sex offender.
- Restrictions on gun rights.
- Supervised probation.
- Temporary suspension of their driver’s license.
Defenses for Criminal Charges in Provo, UT
When you are charged with a crime, you can assert defenses in court. A defense can be broadly defined as anything that makes a conviction less likely in criminal proceedings. One form of defense would be a strong argument in court. However, there are some defenses that are more clearly defined. We will go into some defenses you can raise in Provo criminal cases in this section below.
A common defensive tactic in criminal cases is filing a motion to suppress evidence. In these motions, you allege that certain evidence was obtained illegally and therefore should not be shown to the jury. If important evidence was illegally obtained in your case, successfully excluding that evidence can improve your chances of a favorable outcome in court.
Self-defense involves the use of force that would otherwise be unlawful to protect yourself or someone else. The most common reason for self-defense is fear for one’s life. For example, if someone rushes into a bank with a firearm, waving it at everyone and yelling threats at everyone, injuring that person in an attempt to subdue them can be considered self-defense or defense of others.
Self-defense belongs to a category of defenses called “affirmative defenses.” When raising an affirmative defense, you admit that you did the things that make up a crime, but at the same time argue that there were circumstances that made the things you did ok under the law.
Statute of Limitations
Another defense you can raise is that the statute of limitations has run its course. Statutes of limitation are laws that put a timer on how long the prosecution has to file a lawsuit. If they file too late, they cannot legally file the lawsuit. However, it is important to remember that serious crimes such as murder or rape do not have time limits on prosecution. Charges for those kinds of crimes can be brought at any time.
Insanity is an affirmative defense where the defendant asserts that they were not aware of their actions or right and wrong when they carried out the crime. For example, if a defendant stabbed someone to death but while doing so was under a delusion that they were dreaming/having a nightmare, they may be able to raise an insanity defense. It is important to note that insanity is not always easy to prove in court, so this defense is used less frequently than others.
Probation and Diversionary Programs for Criminal Charges in Provo, UT
A prison term is not always the end result of a criminal conviction. In some cases, convicted defendants are allowed to avoid time in prison through a term of probation or by entering a diversion program. Both are alternative forms of sentencing that could give you a second chance.
Probation allows a convicted defendant to serve their punishment while at home in their communities. The exact terms and conditions of your probation will depend on your unique circumstances. For example, a defendant convicted of a drug crime may be required to undergo random drug testing and remain drug-free for their probation duration. A violation of your probation could result in being sent to prison to serve out the remainder of your sentence.
Diversion programs also allow defendants to avoid prison time and have the added benefit of removing the conviction from their record. There are a wide variety of diversion programs targeting different defendants. For example, the Utah drug court diversion program allows defendants to avoid prison time and complete education and treatment programs that focus more on recovery and rehabilitation. Additionally, the completion of some programs will result in your charges being dismissed. To discuss the possibility of entering a diversion program, contact our Provo criminal defense lawyer for guidance.
Appealing a Criminal Conviction in Provo
If you were unfortunately convicted at your criminal trial, you have the right to appeal your case to a higher court. During an appeal, a court will hear an argument that something went wrong with the legal process during the original trial. However, an appeal is not like a second trial. The court will not re-examine the evidence or listen to new legal theories or arguments. Instead, the court will only examine the record of your trial and look for legal mistakes or errors that may have resulted in an unfair or unjust outcome. For example, suppose the statute of limitations on a crime was three years, and the prosecution brought the case four years after the fact. An appeal based on the fact that the case was heard in error would likely be successful. On the other hand, an appeal claiming that the jury came to the incorrect decision based on the facts would not be successful.
Preserving Issues for Appeal
The nature of your appeal will depend on the issues at your trial. Only issues that were preserved at trial can be heard on appeal. Issues can be preserved by making motions or objections, among other ways. If your attorney did not preserve a certain issue for trial, you have waived your right to have it heard on appeal.
Justice Courts and “De Novo” Appeals
Utah has a special kind of court for lesser crimes and offenses called a “justice court.” Unlike district courts, where many criminal charges are heard, justice courts are not what are called “courts of record.” This means, as the name would suggest, that they do not keep a record of proceedings. Accordingly, there is seemingly no record for appeals to go off of. Instead, you get what is called a “de novo” appeal. Essentially, this is a brand-new trial. However, this new trial will be in a district court instead of a justice court.
Length of Time to Appeal a Case
Your petition for an appeal typically must be received by the courts by a specific deadline. For example, de novo appeals must be filed within 28 days of a conviction per Utah Code § 78A-7-118. If you miss that deadline, you risk waiving your right to appeal. Reach out to our Provo criminal defense lawyer about starting your appeal process as quickly as possible.
Trust Our Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys with Your Case
Call our Provo criminal defense attorneys with Overson & Bugden, at (801) 758-2287 today to set up your free, confidential case evaluation.