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Utah Plea in "Obeyance" (Plea in Abeyance)

The term "plea in obeyance" or "plea of obeyance" is sometimes heard in Utah courts. But you will almost never hear a judge or attorney use this term. Why? Because when this term is used, it is usually based on a misunderstanding of the correct legal term - "abeyance."

A plea in abeyance agreement can be one of the best potential outcomes for many people facing criminal prosecution in Utah. An abeyance agreement can result in a complete dismissal of all charges in the case, and can speed up the expungement process significantly.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help give you the best chance of having your plea held in abeyance. Based in Salt Lake City, criminal lawyer Stephen Howard has assisted clients obtain plea in abeyance offers in cases ranging from the first-degree felony level to lesser misdemeanors. Contact us today to see how he can help you.

Where does the term "plea in obeyance" come from?

This mispronunciation of the term "abeyance" is actually a fairly understandable mistake.

As a condition of an "abeyance" agreement, the court will require compliance with certain terms and conditions (e.g., community service, a court fee, or counseling). If those terms are met, then the plea will be withdrawn and the case dismissed.

In other words, a court may require "obeyance" as a condition of an "abeyance" agreement. Since the term "abeyance" is rarely used outside of the criminal court system, it is understandable that a person who is not familiar with the term would think the judge was requiring "obeyance" rather than ordering an "abeyance."

How do I get a plea in abeyance in Utah?

In order to have your plea held in abeyance, you must convince the prosecutor to agree with that request. Even a judge does not have authority to order a plea held in abeyance without the prosecutor's consent. A plea in abeyance can only be reached as part of a negotiated resolution.

Finding a Criminal Lawyer in Salt Lake City, Utah

Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard provides legal services to clients throughout Utah. His track record includes dismissals, not guilty verdicts, and appellate reversals in some of the most serious criminal charges on the books in Utah. He has successfully negotiated plea in abeyance agreements for cases ranging from first-degree felony to lesser misdemeanor charges.

Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation with Utah criminal lawyer Stephen Howard.


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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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