When a plea is held in abeyance in a Utah criminal case, it is not considered to be a conviction. However, during the “abeyance” period, the case is still considered to be an open and pending criminal case. Upon completion of all terms of the plea in abeyance agreement, the case can be dismissed. In many courts, the dismissal does not happen automatically; the defendant must make a motion to the court asking to have the case dismissed.
Stephen Howard is an experienced criminal defense lawyer, based in Salt Lake City and helping clients in Davis County and throughout Utah. He has successfully handled thousands of serious criminal charges during his career – more than most Utah attorneys will see in their entire careers. His track record includes successfully negotiating pleas in abeyance for firearms charges, drug cases, alcohol charges, theft, and more.
A plea in abeyance offers a number of benefits in a criminal case. But completely clearing your record can require some additional steps. After the case is dismissed, it does not automatically disappear from your record. The criminal charges will continue to show on your record until you have the arrest and charges expunged. Although it will not show as a conviction, your record will still indicate the arrest and the fact that a plea in abeyance agreement was entered into. Once the case is dismissed, you will typically be eligible for an expungement after only 30 days. (This is much shorter than the waiting period for expunging a conviction, which can range from 3 to 10 years, and sometimes even longer.)
If a person fails to follow through with the terms of the plea in abeyance agreement, then an order to show cause can be held by the court. If the defendant is found to have violated the terms of the agreement, then the court can enter the plea as a criminal conviction and sentence the defendant as if there had been an ordinary guilty plea.
So the question of whether a plea in abeyance will show up on a criminal background check depends on the status of your case. Many criminal background checks are only looking for convictions. A successful plea in abeyance does keep a conviction off your record. But you will still need to file for an expungement if you want the arrest and dismissal removed from your record.
Although a plea in abeyance has advantages, there are risks involved in accepting any offer. If you are facing criminal charges in Davis County or anywhere in Utah, contact Stephen Howard now to schedule an initial consultation. Speaking with an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you determine the best way to handle your criminal case.