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Salt Lake District Courts and Justice Courts

The criminal court system in Salt Lake County includes two district court departments and several justice courts. If you are facing prosecution for a criminal charge in Salt Lake County or elsewhere in Utah, the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney is vital. This page is intended to provide general information only about the district court and justice court system in Salt Lake County. Contact us to arrange for an initial confidential attorney consultation to learn more.

District Courts in Salt Lake County

Under Utah law, district courts are considered courts of general jurisdiction, and can hear any level of criminal charge. Judges in district courts have exclusive jurisdiction over felony and class A misdemeanor charges. Even if there is a justice court with geographic jurisdiction, these higher-level charges must be filed in the district court.

District courts can hear lower level misdemeanor cases when there is no justice court with geographic jurisdiction. District courts also have jurisdiction over de novo appeals from justice courts.

The district court system in Salt Lake County includes two courthouses - the West Jordan Department and Salt Lake Department. Most criminal cases are initially filed in the Salt Lake Department (Matheson Courthouse). But if the geographic origins of the case are on the south end of Salt Lake County, many of these cases will then be transferred to the West Jordan Department.

Justice Courts in Salt Lake County

Utah law gives justice courts only limited jurisdiction. A justice court can handle only class B and class C misdemeanors and infractions. While city prosecutors also have legal authority to prosecute class A misdemeanor crimes, the city prosecutor must file a class A misdemeanor charge in the district court. Felony charges that happen with a city's geographic jurisdiction must be prosecuted by the district attorney's office.

Although Salt Lake County justice courts are restricted to lower-level offenses, the penalties can still be severe. A single class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days in jail. A class C misdemeanor carries a potential jail sentence of up to 90 days. If a case involves multiple charges in a justice court, the sentences can run consecutively (back-to-back), resulting in much longer jail time.

Many municipalities in Salt Lake County operate their own justice courts. These include the Alta Justice Court, Bluffdale Justice Court, Draper Justice Court, Herriman Justice Court, Holladay Justice Court, Midvale Justice Court, Murray Justice Court, Riverton Justice Court, Salt Lake City Justice Court, Salt Lake County Justice Court, Sandy Justice Court, South Jordan Justice Court, South Salt Lake Justice Court, Taylorsville Justice Court, West Jordan Justice Court, and West Valley City Justice Court. By an agreement reached between the two cities, misdemeanor offenses occurring within the City of Cottonwood Heights are handled in the Holladay Justice Court.

Choosing a Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake County

Utah Criminal Defense AttorneyStephen Howard is a criminal defense lawyer based in Salt Lake City, Utah who has handled literally thousands of serious felony charges as well as many misdemeanor cases. He is experienced in both district courts and justice courts. No matter what kind of charges you are facing, Stephen Howard is well qualified to provide vigorous and effective representation.

If you are facing criminal charges in Salt Lake or anywhere in Utah, you need an experienced and effective criminal defense lawyer on your side. Contact us now for a free consultation.


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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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