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Criminal Procedures in Utah - Jail Booking and Release

A person charged with a crime in Utah is often booked into jail, even before formal charges are filed with the court. In most cases, the defendant is entitled to a reasonable bail amount. An experienced Utah criminal defense attorney can help you explore other options for release from jail. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with Stephen Howard.

Jail Booking

A person charged with a crime in Utah will usually be required to go through a formal jail booking process. Often, this booking process occurs when the person is arrested prior to the filing of formal criminal charges. But in cases where a summons is issued without a prior arrest on the case, a person may still be instructed by the court to report to the jail to go through a "book and release" process. The formal booking process allows the court to assign an OTN (offense tracking number) to identify the person charged as the defendant. In some courts, the judge may allow the person to be fingerprinted by court bailiffs or a local police department rather than go through a formal jail booking.

"Reasonable Bail"

Constitutional protections require that a defendant, in most cases, be allowed a "reasonable" bail amount. When determining a bail amount, a court is legally required to consider what is reasonably necessary to ensure the defendant's appearance in court, to ensure the integrity of the court process, to prevent direct or indirect contact with the victim or witnesses, and to ensure the public safety.

There are legal exceptions, when a court may deny bail, and may hold a defendant in custody without any possibility of posting bail. These exceptions include: charges for a capital felony (aggravated murder); "felony on felony" cases (when a defendant is accused of committing a new felony crime while on felony probation or parole or while awaiting trial on an earlier felony charge); and any felony charge where there is clear and convincing evidence that, if released on bail, the defendant would pose a substantial danger to another person or is likely to flee the jurisdiction.

After an initial bail amount is set by a court, a defendant may request a bail hearing (bond hearing) to request a lower bail amount. To convince a judge to lower the bail amount, it is helpful to present information demonstrating that the defendant is not a flight risk and is not a threat to anyone in the community. It can also be helpful if the defendant can demonstrate that substantial hardships will be suffered by the defendant or others if the court does not lower bail.

Cash Bail

In some cases, a judge may order a "cash-only" bail. But whether the bail is set as cash-only or bondable, a defendant always has the option of posting a cash bail. The biggest advantage to posting a cash bail is that the bail amount posted is fully refundable, assuming that the defendant appears at all required court appearances. If a defendant fails to appear, the bail may be forfeited. Money paid to a bail bond company is not refundable. (Note that in most circumstances, bail can be posted by credit card and still be considered a "cash" bail.)

Bail Bonds Companies in Utah

If the bail amount is higher than a defendant can post in cash, the defendant may have the option of having a bail bond posted through one of Utah's many bail bond companies. By statute, a bail bond company is required to charge at least 10% of the cash bail amount, plus administrative and processing fees. Money paid to a bail bond company will normally be non-refundable, even if the defendant appears at all required court appearances.

Own Recognizance ("OR") Release

In rare cases, a judge may agree to allow a person to be released from jail without posting bail and without supervision. In order to obtain an "own recognizance" release, a judge must be convinced that the defendant is not a flight risk and is not a threat to the community. Even then, most judges will require more before seriously considering an OR release.

Pretrial Services Release (Salt Lake County Only)

A person booked in the Salt Lake County Jail may be released before seeing a judge and without posting bail or bond, if Salt Lake County Pretrial Services supervises the release. A person released under the supervision of Pretrial Services will be required to check in regularly with the agency, may be required to submit to testing for drug or alcohol use, may be required to participate in counseling groups for substance abuse or other appropriate issues, and other conditions deemed appropriate.

Next:
Felony Court Procedures or Misdemeanor Court Procedures
Previous: Arrest / Citation / Summons
Main: Outline of Utah Criminal Case Processes

Choosing a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake

If you have been charged with a crime in Utah, the best step you can take is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Experienced representation can be critical to ensuring that your rights are protected.

Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense lawyer Stephen Howard has extensive experience defending criminal cases in Utah ranging from murder to DUI, and from white collar crimes to serious felony drug charges. His track record includes not guilty verdicts, dismissals, and appellate reversals in cases including kidnapping, aggravated robbery, burglary, forgery, theft, drug charges, DUI, white collar crime, and many more.

Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation with Mr. Howard. See what an experienced attorney can do for you.


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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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