What Are Your Rights During a Criminal Investigation in Utah?
Being investigated for a crime can be a scary and confusing experience, especially if you have no previous experience with the Utah criminal justice system. You may not understand what rights you have when the police request that you answer their questions or allow them to search your home, car, or person. As a law-abiding citizen, your inclination might be to fully cooperate with the authorities. However, this can sometimes lead to more problems for you down the road.
At Overson Law, PLLC, our Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys have years of experience advising clients who are under investigation as well as those who have been arrested for a crime. We will make sure that your rights are respected by the authorities and that you are not mistreated. If charges are filed, we will fight them aggressively on your behalf. For a free consultation, call our firm today at (801) 758-2287.
How the Criminal Investigation Process Plays Out in Utah
Sometimes, if a police officer personally witnesses someone commit a crime or is given clear evidence that a person has committed a crime, they will have probable cause to arrest that person without undertaking any sort of criminal investigation. However, in most instances, there will be an investigation into a crime that has been committed where the police will interview witnesses and gather the evidence before asking a judge to grant a warrant for someone’s arrest.
An investigation can involve many different angles for the officers. Sometimes, the officers will ask if they can search your home, vehicle, or some other area under your control. You should not allow them to conduct such a search without a valid search warrant. Even if you feel you have nothing to hide, it is entirely possible that they turn up something you didn’t even realize could be held against you.
Another part of the investigation may be the officers attempting to speak to you, whether informally or in an interview at the police station. The officers may try to lull you into a false sense of security by telling you that you are not a suspect and they just want to speak with you regarding potential information you might have about the case. However, this does not mean you should feel free to talk to them without worrying about the consequences. Just because you are not currently an official suspect does not mean you could not become one, or that you are not a “person of interest” in the investigation.
You never have an obligation to speak to the police, and you should never do so without an attorney present. If you have been asked to come in for an interview, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC. We can accompany you to the interview and ensure you do not answer any questions in a way that could be twisted against you down the line.
How the Post-Investigation Arrest Process Works in Utah
Once the police feel that they have reached the point in their investigation where they have enough evidence to make an arrest, the investigating officer will make an application to a judge to grant an arrest warrant. At this point, the police will come find you and execute the warrant. You have the right to be shown a copy of the warrant prior to your arrest, but once a valid warrant has been produced, you must comply and fight the charges later.
Once you have been arrested, you will be taken to the police station for what is known as the “booking” process. During booking, the officers will collect your biographical information, conduct a search of your person, and take your photograph and fingerprint samples. After booking, you will be held in detention until your arraignment before a judge. An arraignment is your first court appearance where the judge will read the charges against you, advise you of your rights, and ask you to plead guilty or not guilty. It is vital that you have a criminal defense attorney with you at this hearing, as they will likely advise you to plead not guilty while they collect more information about the case against you.
For most crimes, the judge will set bail according to the Utah Uniform Bail Schedule. For certain serious crimes, the judge is permitted to refuse bail and require that you remain in jail while your criminal matter is resolved. The judge can also release you on your own recognizance, or without bail, if they feel it is appropriate. An experienced bail hearing attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC knows how to make the right arguments to convince the judge that you deserve minimal or no bail.
Utah Pre-Trial and Trial Proceedings
After your arraignment, your attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor on the case to try to work out a plea deal on your behalf. A plea deal may involve the charges being reduced, or you pleading guilty to the charges in exchange for the prosecutor recommending a more lenient sentence to the judge. If you are not satisfied with the deal or if you do not wish to take a deal, our attorneys are ready and able to take your case to trial and mount an aggressive defense. We will work to poke holes in the state’s case and show that you are not guilty of the crime alleged.
If You Are Concerned about Being Under Investigation for a Crime, Call our Knowledgeable Attorneys Today
While being investigated for a crime does not necessarily mean you will be charged with a crime, it is certainly a reason to be concerned. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC on your side from the time you learn an investigation is underway will help to ensure your rights and being respected and that you don’t do anything to get yourself in more trouble. We are here to serve as your guide and your advocate, and, if you arrested, we will defend you against the charges filed. Call us today at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation.