No matter the severity, it’s never good to violate or break the law. Even an infraction, which is only a violation of an administrative regulation and is generally not considered a criminal offense, can cause headaches and impede opportunities. But what is an infraction and how can it affect you? To learn more about the type of behavior that is considered an infraction in Utah, keep reading as Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer Darwin Overson explains infractions and what you can do to avoid them.
Is an Infraction a Criminal Offense in Utah?
Infractions are simply a violation of an administrative regulation, ordinance, municipal code, or state or traffic rule (infractions are sometimes referred to as “petty offenses”). Infractions are not punishable by incarceration, and instead carry penalties of fines and community service. Common examples of offenses that result in an infraction include traffic violations, walking unleashed dogs, disturbing the peace, drinking in public, littering, jaywalking, and operating a business without a license. In many places, there are efforts to classify certain drug offenses as infractions, not misdemeanors or felonies.
Since infractions can’t result in incarceration, they are not usually considered to be criminal offenses. Yet, since they are based on a violation of Utah criminal code, they are considered a criminal offense in some people’s eyes. Note that it is possible for a conviction of an infraction to appear on a criminal history report.
Note that you have fewer rights in the infraction process since, unlike misdemeanor and felony charges, your liberty is not at stake. With an infraction, you do not have the constitutional right as a jury trial (although some states offer this right). Infractions also do not offer defendants the right to free legal counsel (although it is permissible to hire your own attorney). However, you do have some rights during the infraction process. You have the right to have a hearing before a judge and the right to call witnesses and present evidence. You also have the right to appeal any determination made by a judge.
What Is an Infraction on a Parking Ticket?
Most traffic tickets are classified as infractions, although some of them are classified as class C misdemeanors. (DUI offenses are technically a type of traffic violation but can also lead to severe criminal consequences so get in touch with an experienced Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyer if you have been charged with a DUI.) Common traffic tickets that are infractions include speeding, ignoring stop signs and red lights, and parking violations. Infractions for traffic offenses begin with citations, which are issued by municipal police departments, county sheriffs’ offices, and the Utah Highway Patrol.
A citation issued by a police officer, sheriff, or patrolman will list the name and location of the court where your case will be decided, your court date, and what you’ll have to do to respond to the ticket. Most traffic infractions do not require appearances in court and can be handled simply by paying a fine by mail or an online portal. Contact your court to find out which payment options they accept. The citation will also include a deadline for paying the fine. If you do not pay the fine by the date it’s due (or schedule a court date to dispute it), the court will issue an arrest warrant for you and will be able to suspend your driver’s license.
While you are usually not required to make an appearance in court for a parking ticket, you do have the option of appearing in court to dispute it. When you appear in court, you will have to enter a plea of “not guilty” and then negotiate with a prosecuting attorney. If you can’t reach an agreement, the court will schedule a trial for you. During this trial, you’ll have a chance to explain your traffic violation to the judge and attempt to convince them to drop it. The judge will hear your side of the story and they will listen to testimonies from the officer that issued the citation and any witnesses called by you or the prosecutor.
Penalties for Infractions in Utah
The penalty for an infraction is a fine of $750, community service, or both. In some cases, community service can be done instead of paying the fine, with each hour of service equal to a few dollars of the fine. Acceptable community service includes work performed for a state or local government agency, a nonprofit organization, or another entity or organization that has been approved by the court.
It is possible to expunge infractions from your criminal record in Utah. You will have to wait 3 years following the charge to begin the expungement process. Also, infractions do not count against you when determining expungement eligibility for other charges—there is a limit to the number of felonies and misdemeanors that you are able to expunge from your record but there is no limit to the number of infractions you are able to expunge. Get in touch with our Salt Lake City expungement lawyer for help with the expungement of your infraction.
Our Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help with Infraction Charges
If you or someone close to you needs assistance dealing with an infraction in Utah, you should consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney. While the penalties infractions seem relatively manageable, they can still have an impact on your life. For help with your infraction or other criminal offenses in Utah, get in touch with the Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys from Overson Law, PLLC. To schedule a consultation, call (801) 758-2287.