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Procedural Outline of a Utah Felony Defense Case

This page is part of a series of web pages intended to give a general overview of the criminal case process in Utah's court system. If you are facing felony criminal charges, the assistance of an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney can be invaluable. Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense lawyer Stephen Howard has obtained not guilty verdicts, dismissals, and appellate reversals in some of the most serious felony charges on the books in Utah. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

Initial Appearance / Felony First Appearance

In a misdemeanor case, the first court hearing is the arraignment. In a Utah felony case, the arraignment is not held until after a preliminary hearing is conducted (unless waived), and a probable cause determination has been made by the court and a bindover order issued.

The first hearing in a Utah felony case is called by different names, depending on what county the case is being heard in. Some courts will call it an initial appearance. Others will call it a felony first appearance. But the substance of the hearing is essentially the same regardless of the name used.

At a first hearing in a felony case, the defendant is given formal notice of the charges that have been filed by the prosecuting attorney. Normally, the court will provide a copy of the formal charging document - the "Information." In some courts, the judge will read the Information in open court. In many courts, the judge will ask if the defendant wants the Information read aloud, or if the defendant is willing to waive the reading.

The court will also inquire at this hearing as to whether the defendant is represented by counsel, will be hiring counsel, or will be requesting the appointment of a public defender. Because the potential consequences of a felony conviction are severe, it is always advisable to have the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Next: Formal Discovery Requests
Previous: Jail Booking and Release Options
Main: Procedural Outline of a Utah Criminal Case

Choosing a Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah

If you are facing prosecution for criminal charges, having an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney on your side can make all the difference. Based in Salt Lake City, criminal lawyer Stephen Howard provides legal services to clients throughout Utah. His track record includes not guilty verdicts, dismissals, and appellate reversals in cases including aggravated robbery, child kidnapping, drug distribution, white collar crimes, burglary, forgery, and more. He has the experience, knowledge, skill, and determination necessary to help you get the results you need.

Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.


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  • Criminal Defense AttorneyDismissed - Contractor was charged with theft by deception for allegedly misusing customer funds and failing to complete work that had been agreed upon. A successful motion to quash on legal grounds following the bindover order at preliminary hearing resulted in a complete dismissal of all charges.
  • Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony drug distribution charge and potential life in prison. Charges were based on allegations that client had sold drugs to an undercover police officer, then made a full confession. Successful mitigation work resulted in negotiated offer of misdemeanor plea-in-abeyance and ultimate dismissal of case.
  • Utah Probation Attorney Released - Client absconded for more than 10 years from felony probation with Adult Probation and Parole. At an order to show cause hearing, prosecutor argued aggressively for prison. Based on effective mitigation efforts by the defense, the judge agreed to release client without further jail.
  • Utah Burglary Attorney Not Guilty - Client was charged with residential felony burglary and theft charges. Effective cross-examination of alleged victim at preliminary hearing resulted in an admission by the alleged victim that the charges were based on a false report to police, made for the purpose of getting revenge against the defendant. Case was dismissed outright.
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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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