What Crimes Do You Get Probation for in Utah?

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

Probation is a common punishment for many criminal defendants, particularly those convicted of non-violent misdemeanors. Although it does not necessarily apply to every conviction, probation could be imposed in various cases.

It is difficult to provide an exhaustive list of crimes you can get probation for in Utah. While some offenses are punishable by probation as a matter of statute, the court has more discretion in other cases. Even so, the law provides a list of offenses that are always ineligible for probation, including many violent felonies. Whether probation is available might be spelled out in statutes related to your charges or sentencing guidelines. In some cases, the judge might impose a probation term instead of jail time as a lighter sentence alternative. If you are sentenced to probation, you must comply with the court-imposed terms or risk being rearrested and sent to jail or prison.

If you are facing criminal charges, probation is usually preferable to a term of incarceration. Our Utah probation attorneys can help you argue for a fair probation term so you can return home to your family. For a free case evaluation, call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287.

Criminal Offenses That May Be Punished by Probation in Utah

It is difficult to say exactly what criminal offenses may be punished by probation in Utah. Probation is usually preferred over standard sentencing as defendants may have jail time greatly reduced or they avoid it altogether. Generally, misdemeanor offenses, especially non-violent ones, are more likely to be met with probation. Defendants convicted of serious violent felonies, however, are a lot less likely to get probation. Our Utah probation attorneys can help you determine if your case is eligible for probation and whether probation is a likely outcome.

Almost any category of offense can be punished with probation. While defendants facing misdemeanor offenses might get probation as the exclusive penalty, felonies are handled differently. Suppose a defendant convicted of a felony or certain Class A misdemeanor offenses is sentenced to probation. In that case, probation is likely conditional to an incarceration term, meaning the defendant must serve some time in prison before being eligible for probation.

In most other jurisdictions, this sounds like parole, where a defendant serves jail time before being released under strict terms and conditions. In Utah, however, incarceration is sometimes a part of probation, and defendants sentenced to probation might have to serve a certain amount of jail time first. Often, the jail time is much less than if the defendant was given a full incarceration term.

Whether or not your case is eligible for probation depends on what the statutes say and the judge’s discretion. Although some offenses are more likely to get probation, the judge has much discretion and might not necessarily impose probation. Our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers can help convince the judge that you are a good candidate for probation and would respond better to it rather than a jail or prison term.

Sentencing guidelines are used to keep sentencing uniform and standardized across the state. The guidelines take the magnitude of the offense and the defendant’s criminal history into consideration when determining a sentence. Depending on these factors, you may be sentenced to probation. Generally, less serious offenses and defendants with fewer prior convictions are more likely to face probation.

Is Probation Required After a Criminal Conviction in Utah

Since probation is possible in so many cases, defendants often wonder if probation is a certainty or requirement. The answer depends on the case, but probation might be the go-to sentencing option unless the conditions of the case require a different penalty. Even if probation is not statutorily required, it might still be imposed if the sentencing guidelines provide for it. Our Utah probation lawyers can help push for probation if statutes and sentencing guidelines allow it.

For certain offenses, probation is presumed, meaning it is usually imposed unless circumstances or conditions in your case say otherwise, and judges may only impose a jail term if there is a good reason, like aggravating circumstances. This is more common in lesser misdemeanor convictions. According to the sentencing guidelines matrix for misdemeanor offenses, any defendant with a prior record score of 0 to 3 is presumed to be sentenced to probation only for a misdemeanor conviction. Meanwhile, a higher prior record score or a more serious misdemeanor offense (like a Class A misdemeanor) might make jail time more likely.

While probation might still be available for some more serious felony convictions, we might have to work harder to convince the judge that you deserve probation rather than a standard prison term. If you can get probation, it might come with a mandatory jail or prison term attached as a condition of probation.

Even where probation is presumed, the judge could find a reason to increase the penalties and impose a standard incarceration term instead of probation. This is usually based on aggravating factors in your case that might push the judge to increase the penalties. Our Layton criminal defense attorneys can help you advocate for probation over jail or prison time by highlighting mitigating factors in your case so that you can remain at home with your loved ones.

Offenses Ineligible for Probation in Utah

While many offenses, including misdemeanors and felonies, might be punished with a probation term, certain offenses are always ineligible. No matter what, defendants convicted of these crimes cannot be sentenced to probation, and prison time is mandatory. In such cases, our Murray criminal defense lawyers can help you fight the charges or advocate for the least severe punishment possible.

Under Utah Code § 76-3-406(1), the following offenses are not eligible for probation if they are committed as part of a capital felony or first-degree felony:

  • Murder or aggravated murder
  • Aggravated kidnapping or kidnapping of a child
  • Certain instances of rape or object rape
  • Rape or object involving a child
  • Certain instances of forcible sodomy
  • Sodomy of a child
  • Certain cases of forcible sexual abuse
  • Aggravated sexual abuse of a child
  • Aggravated sexual assault

While this is a strict list of offenses barred from probation, there are a few exceptions provided by law. For one, the court may impose a probation sentence if the offenses listed above were committed by someone under 18 at the time and could have been adjudicated in a juvenile court if the charges had been filed earlier. Probation might still be on the table if the defendant was a minor when the crimes occurred, but they were not arrested and charged until after they turned 18.

Call Our Utah Probation Lawyers for a Free Review of Your Case

If you are facing sentencing for criminal offenses in Utah, probation may or may not be possible. Our Ogden criminal defense attorneys can help you determine if probation is on the table and, if it is, fight for a term of probation rather than jail or prison term. For a free case review, call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287.