Getting arrested can be a terribly scary and disorienting experience. While some may be familiar with what an arrest itself looks like from movies and television, most people do not know what comes after the arrest. They may be unsure what steps they and their loved ones should take in the immediate aftermath of their arrest to protect their rights and to help them resolve their case as quickly and positively as possible. When they are told that they are facing an arraignment, they may not know what exactly that means.
At Overson & Bugden, our experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys are here to guide you through the process, from your arrest to your arraignment and beyond. We have successfully worked to bring many criminal cases to a positive resolution. We will fight to get your charges dropped or dismissed and, if necessary, we will mount an aggressive battle to prove your innocence at trial. For a free consultation, call our firm today at (801) 758-2287.
Understanding Criminal Arraignments in Salt Lake City
For minor crimes, you may be simply issued a ticket with the date of your arraignment on it. Most people charged with a crime are arrested in some form, however. Sometimes, you can be arrested on the spot without a warrant if the officer has probable cause, whether through having personally witnessed the crime or something else, to arrest you. Usually, there is some kind of investigation by the police, and when they are ready to make an arrest they apply for a warrant from a judge. If the arrest warrant is issued, they will come to your home or place of work and place you under arrest.
After you are arrested, you will be taken to the local police station for what is known as the booking process. Your fingerprints and photograph will be taken and you will be kept in a holding cell or at the local jail. In misdemeanor cases, your arraignment must occur within 72 hours of booking. The arraignment is a brief court appearance where the charges against you are read and you enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. However, it is important that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney like those at Overson & Bugden to represent you at this hearing, as they will likely advise you to plead not guilty while they collect evidence and assess the strength of the case.
As noted above, those released on their own recognizance will have an arraignment date on their ticket or summons. The date is typically within 14 days of the date the summons was issued. Contacting a lawyer as soon as possible after you receive the summons can give the lawyer a chance to reach out to the prosecutor and potentially negotiate a deal to resolve your case at the same time as your arraignment.
For felony cases, the arraignment does not occur right away. There will be a bail hearing and potentially a preliminary hearing before the formal arraignment is held in a felony case. The charges will be read at the bail hearing, but the defendant will not be asked to enter a plea at that time.
How a Criminal Cases Unfolds after an Arraignment in Salt Lake City
The next step after the arraignment in a misdemeanor case, and the first step in a felony case, is a bail hearing. In misdemeanor cases, this hearing often occurs in conjunction with the arraignment. At the bail hearing, the judge will make a determination about whether you can be released on your own recognizance, or without bail, whether you must be held in jail until the underlying matter is resolved, or if they should set bail. Usually, they set bail based on the amount suggested in the Utah Uniform Bail Schedule. However, the judge is permitted to deviate from the suggested amount, and, in deciding whether or not to do so, considers such factors as your criminal history, ties to the community, flight risk, and the seriousness of the alleged offense. Our skilled bail hearing lawyers at Overson & Bugden will fight to get you released on little to no bail.
After this, in felony cases there may be a preliminary hearing where initial evidence is presented, and then the formal arraignment will occur where you enter your plea. During this time, in both misdemeanor and felony cases, your lawyer can begin negotiating with the prosecutor for a potential deal. If you have a clean criminal record, your lawyer can try to convince the prosecutor to let you into what is known as a pre-trial diversion program. If you successfully complete this program, which can include such things as counseling, community service, and classes, your charges will be dropped and you will not have a criminal record.
If pre-trial diversion is not a possibility in your case, we can work to get you a deal where the prosecutor downgrades the charge to something less serious or where you plead guilty in exchange for the prosecutor recommending a lenient sentence. Each case is unique and our lawyers will be able to advise you whether a plea might be in your best interest after they have assessed the evidence. If you do not wish to take a plea, however, our skilled trial attorneys at Overson & Bugden are always ready and able to defend your innocence at trial.
Call Our Seasoned Salt Lake City Attorneys for a Criminal Arraignment Today
Unless you decide to plead guilty immediately, which is generally not advisable, the criminal arraignment is just the beginning of your case. You will also need assistance with a potential bail hearing, discovery, plea dealing, and a trial if necessary. This is why it is important to retain an experienced Salt Lake City attorney for a criminal arraignment as early in the process as possible. The sooner we can get started on your case, the better chance we have of bringing it case to a successful resolution. For a free, completely confidential consultation, call our office today at (801) 758-2287.