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Utah Criminal Attorney - Felony on Felony Rule

In most criminal cases, the defendant is entitled to have a reasonable bail set, and to be released while the case is pending if bail or bond is posted. Utah's "felony on felony" rule creates an exception to this general principle, and provides a way for courts to hold a person on even relatively minor felony charges without bail for the duration of the criminal case.

Salt Lake Criminal Defense LawyerIf you are facing felony or misdemeanor criminal charges in Utah, an experienced criminal defense attorney can be vital to achieving the success you need in your case. Based in Salt Lake City, criminal lawyer Stephen Howard protects his clients rights in cases throughout Utah. Contact us today to arrange for a confidential initial consultation.

What is the Felony on Felony Rule in Utah?

The felony on felony rule in Utah comes from the Utah State Constitution, Article I Section 8. This section provides a general rule that all person charged with a crime in Utah shall be "bailable." Utah Code section 77-20-1 contains similar language, essentially codifying the constitutional provisions regarding bail. Under both the constitution and the code, a person who has been charged with a crime has a right to bail except in certain situations. One of these exceptions is commonly referred to as the "felony on felony" rule.

Under the felony on felony rule, a person is not entitled to have a bail set if there is substantial evidence to support a new felony charge alleged to have committed either while the person was already on probation or parole for an earlier felony, or while the person was out on bail while an earlier felony charge was still pending in court. Under such circumstances, the constitution and the Utah Code provide that the person may be held in jail without bail.

Misconceptions about Utah's Felony on Felony Rule

Some prosecutors and even some judges seem to be under the misconception that Utah's felony on felony rule means that a judge CANNOT order bail or allow the defendant to be released if the felony on felony conditions are met. This is simply wrong.

Utah Code 77-20-1 closely follows the language of the Utah State Constitution in setting forth the conditions under which bail can be denied. But its language is consistent with the language of the State Constitution, but is somewhat clearer and more explicit. It states that a person arrested for or charged with a crime in Utah "shall be admitted to bail as a matter of right" unless certain exceptions are met (including the felony on felony rule). But to state that a person does not have the right to bail under the felony on felony rule is not the same as stating that the court cannot grant bail if bail is justified under the circumstances.

By way of analogy, consider how probation is treated under Utah law. At sentencing in a criminal case, the defendant does not have a RIGHT to probation. Yet, the court can grant the privilege of probation if the circumstances justify it. Similarly, while a defendant may not have a RIGHT to bail in a felony on felony case, the court should still be able to grant the privilege of bail in such a case if the circumstances justify it.

Getting Bail in a Felony on Felony Case

Salt Lake County Jail ADCFelony cases are taken seriously by judges and prosecutors in Utah, and bail amounts can be high. In a felony on felony case, a person still has the right to request a bail hearing or bond hearing. But getting bail set becomes an uphill battle since the person no longer has the right to bail.

To convince a judge to grant bail or release in a felony on felony case, you should be prepared to address a number of issues, including: whether there is "substantial evidence" to support the new felony charge; whether the defendant is a flight risk; any public safety or community protection concerns that may be involved in the case; treatment or counseling options that may be open to the defendant while the cases are pending; and other factors that may be relevant to the specific situation.

Finding a Utah Criminal Lawyer in Salt Lake City

The best way to ensure that your rights are protected can be to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard has extensive experience defending felony and misdemeanor cases in Utah's criminal court system. His track record includes not guilty verdicts and dismissals for some of the most serious crimes on the books in Utah.

Based in Salt Lake City, Mr. Howard provides legal services to clients throughout the state. Contact us today to arrange for an initial confidential 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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