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Can I still hire an attorney if I originally told the judge I would represent myself?

In a Utah criminal case, you have a constitutional right to be represented by an attorney. One of the first questions a judge will ask when you appear in court is whether you are hiring an attorney, requesting a public defender, or will be representing yourself. Choosing to represent yourself in a criminal case may be a big mistake. As the case progresses, you may discover that defending yourself is more complicated than you anticipated. You may also learn that the consequences you are facing are more serious than you originally realized.

If you find yourself in this situation, you should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney and provide notice to the court and prosecutor that you are hiring counsel. You have a constitutionally protected right to be represented by an attorney. But your attorney will likely need time to gather discovery, do a thorough case analysis, determine necessary investigation, develop a defense strategy, and prepare the case for court. A delay in hiring an attorney may put you at a strategic disadvantage or may create a situation where the court denies you additional time needed for your attorney to prepare.

If you initially told the judge that you would represent yourself, it may not be too late. Contact us today to arrange for an initial confidential consultation with Utah criminal attorney Stephen Howard. Based in Salt Lake City, Mr. Howard provides legal services to clients throughout Utah.

When is it safe to represent myself in a Utah criminal case?

The only time you should seriously consider representing yourself is when you can accept the worst consequences that you may be facing. If you are facing a simple parking ticket with a $40 fine, you may be better off representing yourself. But even minor misdemeanor cases in Utah can carry serious consequences, including the possibility of substantial jail time and thousands of dollars in fines. Felony cases can involve much more serious penalties.

An experienced defense attorney can help to give you the best chance of avoiding the most serious consequences of a criminal conviction. If you are prepared to accept all of those consequences, you may not need to hire an attorney. Otherwise, you would be well-advised to hire a criminal defense lawyer to represent you.

How much time will my new attorney need in order to prepare to handle the case?

Most of the time, your new attorney will want to ask the court for a continuance, to allow the necessary time to review discovery, pursue any needed investigation, develop an appropriate defense strategy, etc. The amount of time needed to adequately prepare the case can depend on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, cooperation from witnesses or government agencies, the need for expert witness evaluations, etc.

If you wait to try to hire an attorney until the night before trial, the judge may refuse to grant a continuance. Many experienced criminal attorneys will not be willing (and for good reasons) to take on a case unless the judge grants the continuance. Waiting till the last minute to hire an attorney may also be viewed by the judge as a delaying tactic, and may cast you in an unfavorable light with the court.

Finding a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake Criminal LawyerEven minor criminal charges in Utah can have serious consequences. Hiring an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney can help give you the best chance of success in defending your case.

Based in Salt Lake City, criminal attorney Stephen Howard offers legal services to clients throughout Utah. He has successfully protected his clients' rights in thousands of cases ranging from homicide to shoplifting, and virtually everything in between. His track record includes not guilty verdicts and dismissals in some of the most serious charges on the books in Utah.

Contact us now to arrange for an initial confidential consultation with Salt Lake City defense attorney Stephen Howard.

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  • Minor Possession Alcohol - MIP AttorneyDismissed - Minor in possession charge (MIP) was dismissed by prosecutor when defense analysis demonstrated that the police had failed to obtain necessary evidence against client. Police had raided a large party involving underage drinking. Several individuals were charged, but police did not obtain evidence showing that client had personally consumed or possessed alcohol. Case was dismissed.
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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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