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What is a motion to quash a bindover in Utah?

Before a felony charge (or class A misdemeanor) can be brought to trial, Utah criminal law requires that a preliminary hearing* be held where a judge must determine whether there is probable cause to believe that the charged crime occurred and that the defendant is the one who committed the crime.  If the judge finds that there is evidence to support a probable cause finding, then the judge will "bind over" the defendant for trial.  A motion to quash the bindover order is a motion challenging whether the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing is sufficient to support the finding of probable cause.  Having an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney on your side can give you the best chance of obtaining a successful outcome in your case.

The standard to support a bindover order is low.  Although both the prosecution and defense have the opportunity to present evidence at the preliminary hearing, a judge is required to view all evidence and testimony in the light most favorable to the prosecution, and to draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the prosecution.  Further, the evidence must support only a finding of "probable cause."  The probable cause standard is much lower than either a "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" standard, and even lower than a civil "preponderance of the evidence" standard.

Even so, there are cases in which a judge incorrectly binds a case over for trial.  If a motion to quash the bindover is successful, it has the same practical effect as having the entire case dismissed.

Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense lawyer Stephen Howard offers legal services to clients throughout Utah.  Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

*Utah law does allow a grand jury to issue an indictment for the charges without having a preliminary hearing involving the defendant.  However, grand juries are rarely used in Utah state court system.  The vast majority of Utah felony cases are filed by Information, which triggers the right to have a preliminary hearing.


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  • Selected Victories
  • Criminal Defense AttorneyDismissed - Contractor was charged with theft by deception for allegedly misusing customer funds and failing to complete work that had been agreed upon. A successful motion to quash on legal grounds following the bindover order at preliminary hearing resulted in a complete dismissal of all charges.
  • Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony drug distribution charge and potential life in prison. Charges were based on allegations that client had sold drugs to an undercover police officer, then made a full confession. Successful mitigation work resulted in negotiated offer of misdemeanor plea-in-abeyance and ultimate dismissal of case.
  • Utah 402 Reduction Attorney Felony Reduced - Client with prior felony conviction was granted a 402 reduction to the misdemeanor level over the objection of the prosecutor. Based on information provided to the court in support of the defense motion, the judge ruled in favor of the defense.
  • Felony Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony charge and possible life in prison for child kidnapping. Full defense analysis of the case revealed critical legal flaws in the prosecution's case. When confronted with the defense legal analysis, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case outright without trial.
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  • Utah Misdemeanor Attorney Salt Lake Can I handle a Utah misdemeanor from out-of-state? - Even if you do not intend to take your case to trial, a misdemeanor criminal offense in Utah can require multiple court appearances to reach a resolution. If you have been charged with a crime in Utah, but are not a Utah resident, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you resolve the case without returning to the state. . . .
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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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