While they may have seen depictions on television and in the movies, many people in this country have never had first-hand experience with the criminal justice system. This can make a first-time arrest extremely scary and confusing. After the cuffs have been slapped on you, you may have no idea what is coming next or what steps you need to take to protect yourself. When you are told that you are going to have an arraignment, you may be unsure what this means and what is coming next.
At Overson Law, PLLC, our Utah attorneys for a criminal arraignment have years of experience successfully fighting on behalf of our clients across this state charged with all sorts of crimes. From your arrest, to you arraignment and beyond, we will be there every step of the way to guide you through this complicated process. We will work with all the tools in our toolbox to get your charges downgraded or dismissed. For a free consultation, call us today at (801) 758-2287.
Understanding Criminal Arraignments in Utah
For certain low-level crimes and infractions, you may simply be issued a citation or summons with an arraignment date on it and dismissed. Usually, you will be placed under arrest if you commit a crime. In cases where officers have probable cause based on personally witnessing the crime or something else, they can arrest you on the spot. Other times, the police will conduct some sort of investigation into the crime and apply for an arrest warrant when they believe they have enough evidence to prove the case against you. If the arrest warrant is granted by the judge, the police will come find you and execute the warrant by placing you under arrest.
After you arrest, you will be taken to the local police station for what is known as the booking process. During this process you will be fingerprinted and photographed and your biographical information will be collected. After the booking process, you will be held in the holding cell or at the local jail until you can be scheduled before a judge for your first court appearance. For felonies, your first appearance will probably be a bail hearing, as the arraignment does not occur until later in the process for these more serious crimes. For misdemeanors, the arraignment will be your first appearance.
An arraignment is a short proceeding where the judge reads the charges against you and asks for you to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. However, you should still make sure you have an experienced criminal defense attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC representing you at the arraignment, as our lawyers are likely to advise you to plead not guilty while we request discovery and assess the strength of the prosecution’s case. Furthermore, the arraignment in misdemeanor matters often coincides with the bail hearing, for which you will definitely want an attorney.
In cases where you are issued a citation, the arraignment will typically be held within 14 days of its issuance. If you retain a criminal defense lawyer right away, they can try to reach out to the prosecutor and work out a deal to have the matter resolved on the same court date. For felonies, the formal arraignment where you will enter your plea will be held later, after your bail hearing and a potential preliminary hearing where initial evidence is presented.
What Happens After a Utah Criminal Arraignment
If you are taken into custody, your bail hearing will be within 72 hours, either as the first event for felonies or at or around the same time as the arraignment for misdemeanors. At this hearing, the judge will determine whether you can be released on your own recognizance, or without bail, whether you must be held in jail with no bail until the case is resolved, or whether bail will be set. If bail is set, as is most common, the judge will usually rely on the amount suggested in the Utah Uniform Bail Schedule, which is based on the particular crime and the extent of your criminal history. However, judges are given the discretion to set a different amount of bail based on such factors as criminal history, flight risk, community ties, and the severity of the crime. A skilled bail hearing attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC will know how to make the best arguments for you to be released on little or no bail.
As noted above, the arraignment in misdemeanor cases usually happens in conjunction with the bail hearing, while the arraignment will occur later in felony cases. After the bail hearing, for both felony and misdemeanor cases, your lawyer can begin negotiating with the prosecutor for a potential plea deal if this is something that you are interested in. For those without a criminal record, we can try to get the prosecutor to agree to let you enter into a pre-trial diversion program. If you complete this program, which might include things like counseling and community service, the charges will be dropped and you will not have a criminal record.
If pre-trial diversion is not an option for you, we can work to get the prosecutor to agree to a deal where your charges are downgraded or you plead guilty in exchange for a more lenient sentence recommendation. If you do not wish to take a deal or do not wish to accept the particular deal offered, you do not have to. Our attorneys are always ready and able to take your case to trial.
Call Our Utah Attorneys for a Criminal Arraignment Today
The criminal arraignment is only the beginning of your criminal case. Sometimes, especially when the case goes to trial, it can take months to resolve. The sooner you act to retain an experienced Utah attorney for a criminal arraignment like those at Overson Law, PLLC, the quicker we can get to work on getting your charges downgraded or dismissed and bringing your case to a positive, timely resolution. Call our firm today at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation.