Misdemeanor Defense in Utah

Stephen Howard — Stone River Law

Real Experience. Real Results.

It’s a misdemeanor. Do I need a lawyer?

Here are a few topics to consider.

  • Your Rights
  • Your Goals
  • Severity of the Charges
  • Consequences of Conviction
  • Legal Knowledge & Defense Strategy
  • Courtroom Experience
  • Options & Alternatives

Your Rights

We’ve all heard the standard recitations: “You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney.” But a person facing criminal charges has rights far beyond just shutting up and asking for a lawyer.

Miranda violations and Fourth Amendment suppression motions can be part of a strong defense strategy. Constitutional principles of due process provide substantive and procedural rights intended to protect the person who is accused. The presumption of innocence, the right to confront witnesses, the right to counsel both at trial and in the preparation or negotiation stages of the case, discovery rights, . . . and the list goes on.

The best defense attorneys are willing to remind prosecutors and even judges of their duties and obligations to respect and uphold these important constitutional principles.

Your Goals

What do you need to accomplish in your court case? What do you want to accomplish with your life?

Staying out of jail is a common goal for a criminal court case. But we ask our clients to think beyond the end of the case, and to keep their long-term goals in mind as we formulate a case strategy.

Continuing your education, improving job skills and opportunities, overcoming drug or alcohol addition, repairing relationships, building your future, or even just getting back on your feet.

We work to help accomplish your goals for the court case so that you can keep (or start) working on your long-term goals.

Severity of the Charges

Misdemeanors in Utah include crimes that are punishable by less than a year. A class A misdemeanor carries a maximum jail sentence of 364 days; class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to 180 days in jail; class C misdemeanors have a maximum jail penalty of 90 days.

Consequences of Conviction

Even a few days in jail can have serious consequences. But beyond just jail time, many misdemeanor convictions can affect your employment, education, and housing options. Potential consequences to your driver license or professional licensing and loss of firearms rights should be considered.

Other consequences imposed by the court can include fines and court-ordered restitution. Probation can require drug testing, supervision check-ins, counseling, treatment, classes, community service, and more.

Legal Knowledge & Defense Strategy

Knowing the law is just a part of developing and implementing a successful defense strategy. Procedural rules, substantive statutes, and constitutional protections are all important. But the human element can be just as important in finding the right strategy.

Courtroom Experience

Courtroom dramas, police investigation series, and even “real crime” documentaries do not accurately convey what actually happens in court. Good attorneys prepare their clients for court by helping them know what to expect.

Options & Alternatives

Taking the case to trial and pleading guilty are not the only two options for handling a criminal case. Good attorneys are ready for fight, if necessary. The best attorneys can help prosecutors see better options for resolving the case.