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Demanding a Jury Trial in Utah Criminal Cases

Utah Criminal Jury Trial Attorney in Salt Lake City

A person charged with a crime in Utah is entitled to a trial by jury. But the processes for demanding and securing the right to a jury trial are different depending on the level of the offense charged.

The jury trial process in Utah is governed by a complex set of rules and laws. If you are facing criminal prosecution in Utah, the assistance of an experienced criminal attorney at trial is vital. Whether you plan to take your case to trial or are seeking to reach a negotiated resolution, Salt Lake criminal defense lawyer Stephen Howard has the experience, knowledge, and determination to help you achieve the results you need. Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation.

Jury Demand for Felony and Class A Misdemeanor Cases

For class A misdemeanor and felony charges, the right to a jury trial is constitutionally guaranteed. Rule 17 of the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure creates a default rule, providing that felony charges will be tried to a jury, unless the right to a jury is waived by the defendant.

Even if a defendant waives the right to a jury, Rule 17 still requires both the consent of the prosecution and the approval of the court before a bench trial (trial conducted by the judge without a jury) will be granted. Class A misdemeanor charges receive the same constitutional jury trial protections that are afforded to felony cases.

Jury Trial Demands for Other Misdemeanor Charges

Salt Lake City Utah Criminal DefenseIn order to secure the right to a jury trial in a class B or class C misdemeanor case, a defendant is required under Rule 17 of the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure to file a written demand for a jury. Rule 17 requires that the demand for a jury be made at least 10 days prior to trial, unless the court orders otherwise.

To be safe, the best practice is to file a jury demand immediately upon receiving notice of the charges. The filing of a jury demand does not preclude the possibility that the case may be resolved through negotiations without a trial. But filing the jury demand at the outset ensures that the option of a jury trial will still be available if it becomes necessary.

Bench Trial for Infractions - No Jury Trial Allowed

For infractions, Utah law does not provide a right to a jury trial even if a Rule 17 jury demand is made. While a person charged with an infraction is still entitled to the presumption of innocence, the determination of guilty or not guilty in an infraction case will instead by made by a judge at a bench trial.

Some prosecutors will use infraction level charges in order to eliminate a defendant's jury trial right. Even where a misdemeanor charge was originally filed, a prosecutor may choose to amend the charging information to reduce the offense to the infraction level. This infraction reduction is in some ways beneficial to a defendant (e.g. no jail sentence, lower maximum fines). But in the view of many of the best criminal defense attorneys, a bench trial can increase the chances of a conviction as compared with a jury trial. Further, there may still be serious collateral consequences even for an infraction conviction.

Finding a Utah Criminal Lawyer in Salt Lake City

Criminal Defense Lawyer Salt Lake CityIf you have been charged with a crime in Utah, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help ensure that your rights are protected. With offices centrally located in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard is pleased to represent clients throughout Utah. His track record includes not guilty verdicts and dismissals in some of the most serious criminal charges on the books in Utah.

Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation with Salt Lake criminal attorney Stephen Howard.

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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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