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Procedural Outline of a Utah Misdemeanor Case

This web page is part of a series of pages presenting an overview of case procedures in Utah's criminal court system. If you have been charged with a crime, it is important to have the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard has successfully protected his clients' rights in thousands of cases ranging from homicide to white collar crime, and virtually everything in between. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

Misdemeanor Arraignment

The first hearing in a Utah misdemeanor case is the arraignment. At this hearing, the court will provide formal notice to the defendant of the nature and number of charges that have been filed by the prosecutor. The defendant will be given a copy of the Information - the formal charging document filed by the prosecutor. Because the prosecutor has discretion in deciding which charges to file, the Information may contain more, different, or fewer charges than what was originally listed on the citation or what the defendant was originally booked on at the jail.

At the arraignment hearing, the court will also ask the defendant to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. One of the biggest mistakes made in a Utah misdemeanor case can be entering a guilty plea at an arraignment hearing. Doing so deprives the defendant of the opportunity to test the prosecutor's case at trial, or alternatively to engage the prosecution in a meaningful negotiation to determine whether a negotiated resolution may provide a better result. Having the assistance of an experienced attorney is critical to determining the best defense strategy for the case.

Under Rule 11 of the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure, a defendant cannot be required to enter a plea until the defendant has first had a reasonable opportunity to consult with a defense attorney. If a defendant has not had yet hired a criminal defense attorney, a defendant may ask the judge for additional time to obtain counsel, or the defendant may enter a not guilty plea.

There are sometimes exceptional circumstances where entering a guilty plea at an arraignment may be in the defendant's best interest. But it is important to have the advice and assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney before making such a decision.

Next: Formal Discovery Requests
Previous: Jail Booking and Release - Bail and Bond Options
Main: Outline of Utah Criminal Case Procedures

Choosing the Right Utah Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake

Misdemeanor criminal charges in Utah carry the possibility of extended jail sentences and thousands of dollars in fines. Having the right criminal defense attorney on your side can be critical to achieving the best outcome for your case.

Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense lawyer Stephen Howard has successfully protected his clients' rights in thousands of serious felony and misdemeanor cases. His track record includes not guilty verdicts, dismissals, and appellate reversals in some of the most serious charges on the books in Utah.

Contact us now to arrange for an initial consultation for your Utah criminal case.


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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.
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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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