Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Utah
Criminal Defense Attorney Stephen Howard
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Finding a Felony Defense LawyerChoosing a Misdemeanor Defense LawyerDrug and Alcohol Crimes Defense LawyerWhite Collar Defense Attorney for Utah ChargesAttorney for Expungements Reductions and PardonsDefendant Constitutional Rights Criminal LawyerBail and Bond Alternatives in UtahReasons for Hope Facing Criminal Charges

Pleading Guilty Without a Criminal Attorney

Should I plead guilty in a Utah misdemeanor case without an attorney?

You should never plead guilty or no contest in any Utah justice court or district court case without fully understanding your rights and the consequences of such a plea. The best way to learn what your rights are can be to consult with an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney.

Even if your charges are just based on a citation or ticket, once you plead guilty or no contest in a Utah court you give up some very important Constitutional rights and protections. Perhaps more important, by pleading guilty or no contest you subject yourself to some potentially serious consequences. Understanding these rights and the potential consequences of a plea is absolutely vital.

Even if you are seeking a quick resolution to your case and do not want to become involved in a drawn out legal fight, having counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney can often lead to a better result and better long-term resolution.

Based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard provides legal services to clients throughout Utah. Contact us today for a confidential consultation with Utah criminal

What can happen if I enter a guilty or no contest plea in a Utah criminal case?

Consequences of Conviction in UtahThe first consequence of a guilty plea or no contest plea in a Utah case is the entry of a criminal conviction on your record. There are many criminal charges in Utah for which a police officer can issue a citation without arresting the person. In some cases, the person may not even realize that the citation represents a criminal charge. Entering a guilty plea or a no contest plea will result in the entry of a criminal conviction on your record.

Any criminal conviction carries the potential for jail time. Even just a class B misdemeanor can be punished with up to 180 days in jail. While many justice court cases may be resolved without actual jail time being served, a criminal conviction can still carry other collateral consequences.

For some criminal charges, a criminal conviction can affect driver license privileges, the right to carry a firearm, employment, professional licensing, and much more.

Can I just agree to a bail forfeiture and pay the fine?

This is one legal option for resolving a Utah citation. But before doing this, you should be aware that a voluntary bail forfeiture will be entered on your record as a conviction and treated as though you had entered a guilty plea in the case.

Agreeing to a voluntary bail forfeiture can save you a trip to court, and it may avoid the risk of jail. But a criminal conviction, even under a bail forfeiture, can impact other rights. Just as with any other criminal conviction, a conviction resulting from a bail forfeiture can affect professional licensing eligibility or employment, along with any other collateral consquence of an ordinary conviction. It may also affect future eligibility for expugement.

Finding a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake

If you have been arrested or received a citation for a misdemeanor charge in Utah, it is important to seek advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney before deciding how to handle your case. The consequences of entering a plea just to "get it over with" can be severe, and in some cases irreversible.

With extensive experience handling both misdemeanor and felony criminal cases in Utah, defense attorney Stephen Howard has the knowledge, skills, and determination to help his clients get the results they need.

Based in Salt Lake City, Mr. Howard provides legal services to clients throughout Utah. Contact us today to arrange for a confidential consultation.


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  • Criminal Defense Trial AttorneyNot Guilty - Client was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly pointing handgun at and threatening another driver during a road rage incident. Defense investigation and analysis, combined with effective cross-examination at trial indicated the alleged victim was the initial aggressor and suported client's self-defense claim. Jury acquitted client at trial.
  • 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.
  • 402 Reduction Lawyer Utah 2-Step Reduction - Client needed a two-step reduction to bring a prior conviction to the misdemeanor level. Collection of substantial evidence of reform and rehabilitation convinced a normally reluctant prosecutor to stipulate to the defense 402 reduction motion.
  • 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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An arrest is not a conviction. If you are facing criminal prosecution in Utah, it can feel like your world is collapsing. But there are things you can do right now that can increase your chances of a good outcome. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you evaluate the various options available to you and help develop a strategy for success....

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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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