Ogden Misdemeanor Defense Attorney

Stephen Howard — Stone River Law

Real Experience. Real Results.

Ogden Misdemeanor Defense Attorney

Under criminal law in Utah, a misdemeanor charge carries penalties that can include up to 364 days jail and $2,500 in fines plus surcharges. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is strongly recommended, even if it is “just” a misdemeanor.

District Court or Justice Court in Ogden

All class A misdemeanor cases (and felonies) in Weber County must be filed in Ogden’s Second District Court. Class B and class C misdemeanors are normally handled in a justice court, unless the case also includes higher level charges.

Weber County’s only district court is located in downtown Ogden. Ogden City also operates its own justice court for lower level misdemeanor charges. Other justice courts in Weber County include Roy, Riverdale, Washington Terrace, South Ogden, Farr West, and Harrisville.

Defense Strategy in Ogden’s Courts

When developing the best defense misdemeanor case strategy, your attorney should consider the type of the charge(s) filed, the specific facts of the case, the applicable law (including statutory provisions, case law, and procedural rules), and also your specific circumstances and goals. Often, the client’s needs will be the single most significant factor in determining the appropriate strategy choices.

A careful analysis of the law and the facts related to the case should reveal what strengths and weaknesses exist for both the defense and prosecution sides of the case. By examining both sides of the case, a good defense attorney can determine which defense techniques and tools are most appropriate – a motion to suppress, a constitutional challenge, jury trial, etc.

Meeting with Clients and Identifying Goals

Meeting directly with a client is the best way for an attorney to learn what is most important to that client, and identify what goals the client wants to pursue in the case.

For some, it is most important to keep a conviction off their record. For others, it is critical that they stay out of jail. Some want to take the case “all the way,” and others may hope for a speedy resolution through negotiations. By taking into consideration each of our client’s personal needs and circumstances, we are able to prepare a strategy for defense most likely to meet the needs and goals of our clients.

Common Ogden Misdemeanor Charges

Misdemeanor charges filed in Ogden’s courts often fall into one of the following categories:

  • Drug Charges (possession or paraphernalia)
  • Property Crimes (theft, shoplifting, damage to property)
  • Alcohol-Related Offenses (DUI, intoxication, minor in possession)
  • Public Order Crimes (disorderly conduct)
  • Domestic Violence (assault, DV in the presence of a child, damage to property)
  • Other Violent Crimes (assault)

Some offenses can fall into more than just one category. For example, damage to property (formerly referred to as “criminal mischief”) is a property crime, but can also be classified as a domestic violence offense if the damaged property belongs to a spouse or domestic partner. Another example would be a DUI charge based on drug use, rather than alcohol consumption.

Misdemeanor Penalties

The following are maximum penalties associated with each class of Utah misdemeanor charge.

Class A Misdemeanor – 364 days jail; $4,750 (fine plus surcharge)
Class B Misdemeanor – 180 days jail; $1,900 (fine plus surcharge)
Class C Misdemeanor – 90 days jail; $1,425 (fine plus surcharge)

When facing multiple counts, the district court or justice court judge has the discretion to run the sentences for each count consecutively (back to back) or concurrently (simultaneously). As an example, a person with two class B misdemeanor 180-day jail terms, if imposed consecutively could end in nearly a full year in jail. Imposed concurrently, those two 180-day jail terms would only equal 180 days. A judge can impose consecutive sentences on multiple misdemeanor charges contained in one single case. Or, two different judges could impose sentences consecutive to the other judge’s sentence if a person has convictions in multiple cases.

Other Consequences for Ogden Misdemeanor Convictions

On top of jail time and fines, Ogden courts may order payment of restitution for injuries or damage that resulted from the criminal conduct of the defendant. Restitution payments can be ordered as a condition of probation, or can be simply entered as a judgment to be collected if the person is sentenced to actually serve all jail time without probation.

In situations where the defendant is allowed the opportunity for probation, a judge in Ogden may impose a variety of conditions including community service, drug or alcohol treatment, domestic violence counseling, anger management classes, theft classes, curfews, restrictions on travel, restrictions on personal associations, drug testing, and more. Probation conditions must be rationally related to legitimate goals of the criminal justice system. But the requirement of a rational relationship does little to limit the court’s discretion in determining appropriate probation conditions.

Certain collateral consequences can accompany a misdemeanor conviction even without an order from the court. Drug-related convictions (such as possession or paraphernalia charges) can result in a suspension order from the Utah Driver License Division. A domestic violence conviction can result in the loss of the right to carry, use, or otherwise possess a firearm. Many housing rental agreements will contain clauses allowing a landlord to evict the tenant if the tenant is convicted of a criminal offense. The list of potential collateral consequences is long.

Too often, people may believe that since a case involves “just” a misdemeanor, that having an attorney is not necessary. While misdemeanors are obviously not as serious as felony charges, a conviction can have lasting consequences. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side can give you the best chance of achieving a successful outcome for your Ogden misdemeanor case.