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Criminal Case Process in Utah - Arrest / Citation / Summons

If a police criminal investigation yields sufficient evidence to support a criminal charge against a defendant, the police have several options by which they can proceed. In any of these circumstances, an experienced criminal defense attorney can play a vital role in protecting the defendant's rights. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with Utah criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard.

Warrantless Arrest

In some circumstances, a police officer is allowed to make an arrest without a warrant. These circumstances include the following: the crime was committed in the presence of the officer; the officer has reasonable cause to believe that a felony or class A misdemeanor has been committed; or the officer has reasonable cause to believe that any crime has been committed and that the suspect will flee or attempt to conceal himself, destroy or conceal evidence of the crime, or injure another person or cause damage to another person's property.

Arrest with Warrant

If the above circumstances do not exist, a police officer may be required to obtain a warrant before making an arrest. Typically, the arrest warrant will be issued by the court following the filing of formal charges. In making a request for an arrest warrant, many prosecutors will make a perfunctory recitation along the lines of the following: "There is reason to believe that the above-named defendant will not appear upon a summons." Many judges do not require any specific supporting reasons for the "belief" but will instead issue the warrant as requested.

Citation

In some cases, a police officer may issue a citation to the person who is accused of a crime. The citation will typically list the sections of the Utah State Code or of the local municipal code that are alleged to have been violated. Sometimes the citation will list the offense by its common name rather than citing the code section. In minor misdemeanor and traffic cases, the police officer's citation can serve as the charging document when it is filed with the court. But a defendant has the right to require a formal "information" to be filed with the court. A formal information must be filed by the prosecuting attorney, and requires the prosecutor to review the case to determine which, if any, charges are appropriate.
 

Summons

If a person is not immediately arrested following the alleged commission of a crime, the court has the option of issuing an arrest warrant or sending a summons to the defendant. As noted above, an arrest warrant is an order to any peace officer finding the defendant to arrest and bring the defendant defendant before the court to face formal charges. A summons instead provides notice to the defendant that the charges have been filed, and provides instructions to the defendant regarding where and when to appear for court. A summons may also provide instructions to the defendant to appear at the jail for a "book and release" process.

Many prosecutors will by default ask the court to issue an arrest warrant rather than send a summons. But many prosecutors can be persuaded to instead request a summons if the prosecutor is convinced that the defendant will appear voluntarily in court. An experienced Utah criminal defense attorney can provide vital assistance in making this argument to the prosecutor.

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Jail Booking and Release
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Main: Outline of Utah Criminal Case Processes

Choosing the Right Utah Criminal Defense Attorney

Finding a criminal lawyer to handle your case can be a daunting task. There are a number of important factors to consider in choosing the best criminal defense attorney for your case. Experience and a record of success are two important considerations.

Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard has successfully protected his clients' rights in thousands of Utah criminal cases, ranging from murder to white collar crimes, and from DUI to serious felony drug charges. He has achieved not guilty verdicts or dismissals in cases including aggravated robbery, child kidnapping, attempted murder, drug distribution, burglary, forgery, theft, and many more. He has the skill, experience, and knowledge necessary to ensure that your rights are protected.

Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.


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  • Criminal Defense AttorneyDismissed - Charges of insurance fraud were brought when investigators found reason to believe that client's claim of injury was fraudulent. Client was seen kicking a soccer ball, and investigators concluded that the injury claim was false. By obtaining medical records and other administrative records, and by pointing out to the prosecutor that the alleged injury interferred with the client's ability to lift - not his ability to kick a ball - the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case.
  • Minor Possession Alcohol - MIP AttorneyDismissed - Minor in possession charge (MIP) was dismissed by prosecutor when defense analysis demonstrated that the police had failed to obtain necessary evidence against client. Police had raided a large party involving underage drinking. Several individuals were charged, but police did not obtain evidence showing that client had personally consumed or possessed alcohol. Case was dismissed.
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  • Utah Burglary Defense Attorney Not Guilty - Client was charged with second-degree felony residential burglary and facing potential prison time. Investigation by the defense revealed multiple witnesses, missed by police and prosecutors, who supported client's claim of innocence. At trial, the jury returned a "not guilty" verdict on all charges.
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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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