Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Lawyer

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

Especially for those who have little or no experience with the criminal justice system, being arrested or cited for a crime can be one of the scariest experiences of your life. You are likely to feel alone, confused, and even helpless.  However, it is vitally important that you keep your cool as much as possible and understand the steps you need to take to protect yourself and your rights. Failure to do so could put your liberty and your future at risk even more than it already is.

Perhaps the most important things you need to do is for you or a loved one to reach out to a skilled Salt Lake City, Utah criminal defense attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC as soon after the arrest as possible. The quicker you get into contact with us, the better chance we have of working to get the charges against you downgraded or dismissed. We will leave no stone unturned fighting to bring the matter to the best possible resolution for you and your future. Call us today at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation.

Why Choose Our Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Firm?

For over two decades, attorney Darwin Overson has successfully defended clients charged with all sorts of crimes in Salt Lake City and throughout the state of Utah. This kind of hard-earned experience, and the respect and institutional knowledge that come with it, make Darwin one of the most sought-out criminal defense attorneys in the state. Darwin and our entire team have a record of putting everything we have into each case that comes before us, and treating each client as a person going through one of the toughest experiences of their life, not just another file to be closed and check to be cashed. This compassionate yet relentless approach to criminal defense is what makes us stand out, and it is why going with us gives you an excellent chance to get your charges downgraded or dismissed and bring the matter to a satisfactory resolution.

Arrest Procedure in Salt Lake City Criminal Cases

In some instances, for minor crimes and infractions like most traffic matters, the police officer will issue you a citation with a court date on it and then permit you to go on your way. Some folks make the mistake, however, of assuming that they can just throw such a citation aside and pretend like it never happened, which is a terrible idea, because if you do not show up for court as required, a judge is likely to issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Once a bench warrant has been issued you can be arrested any time you come into contact with the police and will face even more serious potential penalties than you were already facing.

Instead, if you receive a citation, the first thing you should do is to reach out to a skilled Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC. The quicker you get in touch with us, the faster we can work to resolve your case. We may even be able to contact the prosecutor and work out a deal where the entire matter is resolved on the date of your first court appearance.

Citation is not the typical way that police deal with those they suspect of committing a crime, however. Most of the time when the police believe you have broken the law they will place you under arrest. This can happen on the spot if the officer personally witnesses you commit the crime or otherwise has probable cause to believe that you did so. Otherwise, there will be some sort of investigation into the crime, which might involve interviewing witnesses, gathering physical evidence, and checking for video surveillance footage. If the police attempt to interview you, do not answer their questions until you have a skilled criminal defense lawyer like those at Overson Law, PLLC by your side. Once the police believe they have enough evidence to prove that you committed a crime, they will apply for an arrest warrant with a judge.

If the judge grants the warrant, the police will typically come to your home, place of business, or wherever you are to execute the warrant immediately. After you have been arrested, you will be taken to the local police station for what is known as the booking process. During the booking process, the police will take your photograph, fingerprint you, collect your biographical information, and inventory any items you had on your person at the time of your arrest. Following the booking process, you will be placed into the police holding cell until your initial appearance and bail hearing are held.

Stages of a Salt Lake City Criminal Case

Criminal cases can be a long and grueling process filled with many different events. Below, our experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC take you through each of the most important stages and explain how we can assist you at each stage in moving your case toward the most positive possible resolution.

Initial Appearance

Within 72 hours of your arrest, but usually much quicker unless it is a weekend or a holiday, your initial appearance will occur. At your initial appearance, the judge will read the charges against you and advise you of your rights during the criminal case process, including your right to an attorney if you do not already have one. In misdemeanor cases, your arraignment, where you are asked to enter an initial plea of guilty or not guilty, will also occur at the initial appearance. In felony cases this will occur later, after a potential preliminary hearing. Either way, our veteran Salt Lake City attorneys for a criminal arraignment are likely to advise you to enter an initial plea of not guilty while we collect all of the prosecutor’s evidence, assess the strength of the case against you, and try to work out a deal. The plea can be easily changed to guilty later if you decide to take a deal.

Bail Hearing

The bail hearing usually occurs at or around the same time as the initial appearance. This quick turnaround time is one of the most important reasons why it is imperative that you or a loved one reach out to us as quickly as possible after your arrest, so that we have time to prepare for this hearing and appear by your side.  At your bail hearing, the judge will first decide if you can be released from custody or if you must remain in jail until the underlying charges against you have been resolved. If they decide you can be released, they will also make a decision about how much bail to set, usually in consult with the amount suggested by the Utah Uniform Bail Schedule. However, the judge is permitted to take into account extenuating circumstances presented by your lawyer that may call for the bail to be set lower or higher than the suggested amount.

An experienced bail hearing defense attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC will know how to make the best case to the judge that you should be released to your home on little to no bail.
Extenuating factors that the judge will take into account will be the nature and severity of the alleged crime committed, whether you have a criminal history, and the strength of ties you have to the local community. The judge can also choose to release you on your own recognizance, or without any conditions, or release you with non-monetary conditions such as attending counseling.

Preliminary Hearing

The preliminary hearing occurs only in class A misdemeanor and felony cases in Utah, and even then it can be waived by the defendant. At this hearing, the prosecutor will be required to show that there is probable cause for the case to move forward by presenting their evidence and witnesses. In turn, your attorney will get a chance to rebut the evidence and cross-examine the prosecutor’s witnesses. The prosecutor will almost always ask you to waive this hearing, but you should never do so without first consulting with a skilled Salt Lake City preliminary hearing attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC first. Sometimes, even if we do not believe we will succeed at the preliminary hearing in getting the case dismissed, we may wish to hold it anyway so we can get a sort of preview of the prosecution’s witnesses, evidence, and overall theory of the case.

In felony cases, the arraignment will occur after the preliminary hearing it you choose not to waive it. As noted above, unless we have already come to some sort of amenable deal with the prosecutor, we are almost certain to advise you to plead not guilty at this point and change your plea later if a deal is reached.

Plea Bargaining

Once we have gotten you released from jail and entered your initial plea at your arraignment, our lawyers will turn our focus to requesting any outstanding discovery that has not yet been provided, filing any necessary motions like a motion to exclude evidence obtained as a result of an illegal search and seizure, and beginning plea negotiations with the prosecutor. If you are a first-time offender charged with something relatively minor, we will try to get the prosecutor to agree to let you into a pre-trial diversion program or to enter a plea in abeyance. In both of these cases, your charges will be dropped if you complete the program successfully and stay out of further trouble for the time required by the court.

In many cases, pre-trial diversion or a plea in abeyance may simply not be on the table. However, there are a number of other potential deals a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC can try to work out. In some cases, we may be able to convince the prosecutor to downgrade the charge to something less serious, such as from a felony to a misdemeanor, and saving the state the time and cost of putting on a trial. Another possibility is you pleading guilty in exchange for the prosecutor recommending a lenient sentence. The judge will almost always honor a request from the prosecutor for leniency at sentencing.


If you do not wish to accept a plea deal, our skilled trial lawyers at Overson Law, PLLC are ready and able to fight your case at trial. Anyone charged with a misdemeanor or felony in the state of Utah is entitled to a trial before a jury of their peers where the jury must vote unanimously in order to convict them. If you are charged only with an infraction, such as most traffic matters, your trial will be a bench trial before a single judge who will make all the decisions including ruling on guilt or innocence.

Our lawyers can work to convince the jury or the judge that there is reasonable doubt about whether or not you actually committed the crime alleged. We will present evidence and witnesses and aggressively question and refute the prosecution’s witnesses and evidence. Our battle-tested trial lawyers at Overson Law, PLLC will leave no stone unturned fighting to get you a not guilty verdict so that you can have your life back and preserve your future.


If you are found guilty, you will next have a sentencing hearing where the judge will decide what penalties you will face. Sometimes there are mandatory minimum sentences that judge must had down, but often the judge has a great amount of discretion to decide what kind of penalty you will face. An experienced Salt Lake City sentencing lawyer like those at Overson Law, PLLC can argue for minimal penalties by presenting evidence of your good character and reputation outside of this particular incident. In some cases, we may even be able to have character witnesses testify on your behalf. We will work to get you more lenient sentences like probation instead of jail time.

Potential Penalties for Criminal Offenses in Salt Lake City

There are a number of different penalties you can face if you are convicted of a crime in the state of Utah, including but not limited to jail time, fines and fees, court supervision through probation or parole, court-ordered drug and alcohol treatment, community service, and stay-away orders. As noted above, some crimes have mandatory minimum or maximum sentences attached to them, while others allow the judge more discretion. The class and grade of crime you are convicted of, to be discussed below, is the main force in driving which penalties you might face, but your criminal history will also be taken into account. For example, if you are a first-time offender convicted of DUI, you may get off with just fines and probation, or even be permitted to enter into a pre-trial diversion program. However, if this is your third or fourth DUI conviction, jail time is almost certain.

Crimes in the Utah Criminal Code are generally separated into three distinct categories: felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions. Felonies and misdemeanors are further subdivided by degree and class, respectively. Felonies are the most serious type of charge, for which you generally might face the most serious potential penalties like long jail sentences, while misdemeanors are less serious but can still lead to sever punishments in some cases. Infractions are more minor issues like traffic tickets which do not usually lead to the most serious types of penalties, but can lead to trouble if you accumulate a large number of them. Felonies are subdivided into capital felonies, first-degree felonies, second-degree felonies, and third-degree felonies, with capital felonies, where you can face potential capital punishment, the most severe, and third-degree the least severe. Misdemeanors are subdivided into class A, B, and C misdemeanors, with A being the mots serious and C being the least serious.

By engaging the services of a skilled Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC as early in the process as possible, you give us the best chance at mitigating the damage and helping you get off with the most lenient possible punishment. The harder we press the case for your innocence, and point out the mitigating factors in your favor, the more likely it is the prosecutor, judge, or jury will be amenable to letting you off with a slap on the wrist rather than throw the book at you. In some cases, we may be able to get the prosecutor to agree to a sentencing deal in exchange for your guilty plea, while in others we will have to fight at the sentencing hearing, but in all cases, we will leave no stone unturned battling to get you off as easy as possible so you can return to your life.

Types of Crimes Our Experienced Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorneys Handle

Because of the many years of experience of Darwin Overson and the other members of the team at Overson Law, PLLC, there are almost no crimes out there that we have not defended a client against somewhere across the state of Utah. As such, no matter what you find yourself charged with, our attorneys will have the knowledge and experience to assist you. Below we describe some of the most common charges we have worked to help clients get downgraded or dismissed.


There are two types of assault charges a person can face in Utah: simple assault and aggravated assault. Under the law, simple assault is a misdemeanor, and aggravated assault is a felony. As such, a conviction for aggravated assault is likely to lead to more severe penalties than a simple assault conviction. However, conviction for either can result in jail time, expensive fines, and other serious penalties. Our skilled Salt Lake City assault attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC can work to get your charges dismissed or downgraded, like from aggravated to simple assault, and to keep you from facing the harshest possible penalties.

Theft Crimes

The category of “theft crimes” includes the crime of theft itself as well as the crimes of robbery and burglary. Theft is stealing something from someone else, like picking someone’s wallet from their pocket on a subway. Robbery is using force or fear in order to accomplish the theft, such as if you held a knife to someone and forced them to turn their wallet over. Burglary involves breaking into a building with the intent to commit certain crimes, including theft but also including rape, homicide, and other felonies. Theft and robbery can both be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors depending on the circumstances including the amount stolen, but burglary is always a felony.

Drug Crimes

Drug crimes in Utah include possession of drugs, manufacture of drugs, distribution of drugs, possession with the intent to distribute, and possession of drug paraphernalia. These charges can be felonies or misdemeanors depending on a number of factors including whether you were moving the drugs or if they were for personal use, and the type of drug involved. A conviction for a crime involving any type pf drug, including marijuana, can lead to serious consequences, including a criminal record that will haunt you for years to come, As such, you should reach out to one of our experienced Salt Lake City drug crime attorneys as soon after your arrest as possible so we can get to work on mitigating the damage and avoiding a conviction.

In addition, the following is a non-exhaustive list of other crimes we have worked on:

  • Underage Drinking
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Sexual Assault
  • Rape
  • Homicide
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Insurance Fraud
  • Welfare Fraud
  • Unemployment Fraud
  • Domestic Violence Charges
  • Juvenile Charges

Call Our Veteran Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorney Today

No matter what type of criminal charges you are facing in Salt Lake City, from the slightest infraction to the most serious capital felony, it is vital that you be represented by experienced Salt Lake City counsel like the battle-tested attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC. Through our years of experience, the team at Overson Law, PLLC is ready and able to help you with any charges you face, and will work ceaselessly to bring the matter to the most positive possible conclusion for you and your future. Contact us today at (801) 758-2287 for a free, confidential consultation.