If you have been charged with a crime, whether a misdemeanor or a felony, it is very important that you work with a criminal defense attorney throughout the entire process. Whether or not you think that the situation is serious, there may be a lot more at risk than is immediately apparent, and you could find yourself looking back on this case year from now wishing that you had taken some different steps. Criminal law is complicated, which is why it is so important that you take this process seriously and work with an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Utah. Many criminal defense attorneys offer free initial consultations with potential clients so that they can ask a variety of questions about their situation and learn about the most appropriate steps that they should be taking to move forward with as much success as possible.
The Criminal Law System
The criminal law system in the Utah is complicated and confusing, especially for individuals who do not have a comprehensive understanding of the situation that they are involved in, and the possible consequences of a guilty finding or plea agreement. If you are at a court hearing working with a prosecutor, they will make an initial offer for the individual to accept a guilty finding, or may make an initial offer for a plea deal. While this may seem like the proper decision given the circumstances and the individual may want to get the process finished with, it could come back to cause a major issue.
Negotiating Acceptable Outcomes
You may have noticed that there is a theme here, and it all comes down to working towards the most acceptable outcome for your situation. Every step that your attorney takes will be with the intention to get you the lightest possible sentence, the most minimum penalties available for your charges, and how you can mitigate the impact that these charges have on your life. When you are working on your own and attempting to represent yourself, courts and prosecutors will take advantage of your inexperience and you will find yourself walking away with steep penalties without much clarity on how it even happened.
Professional Advice For Your Specific Case
When you hire an attorney to represent your case, they are working directly on your behalf in order to help you with your case. This means that any action you think about taking outside of the case that you are unsure of how it will impact your proceedings, and then you will be able to consult with them. If you are wondering how your case will impact your ability to apply for jobs, renew a driver’s license, apply for housing, or anything else that is unclear at the time, you will be able to contact your attorney and get a specific answer about the exact situation that you are in. While this may not seem like a big deal right off the bat, you will find that their advice and counsel throughout your case is absolutely irreplaceable because of how simple it will make each of these otherwise complicated questions seem.
Confidence In Your Case
The most important thing that you will get from working with a criminal defense attorney is confidence. You will be able to get straight answers from them about your entire situation and will be able to plan accordingly for your future given their history of experience and their understanding of how they expect your case to go.
There are two main types of law in the Utah: Civil Law and Criminal Law.
Criminal law is designed to address behavior that is considered to be an offense against society, the state, or the public, even if the victim is an individual person as opposed to a group of people. Criminal law can be thought of as a body of federal and state rules that prohibit behavior the government considers to be harmful to society. In short, crimes are defined by criminal law. If a person engages in acts of behaviors that are considered to be harmful to society, they could be found guilty of committing a crime. Crimes are generally prosecuted in a criminal court. Someone convicted of a crime may be forced to pay fines, and may also lose their personal freedoms and privileges by being sentenced to jail or prison time.
Types of Crimes
There are many different crimes, and what exactly constitutes a crime may vary from state to state. In general, crimes may be categorized into broad categories. These categories are personal crimes, property crimes, inchoate crimes, and statutory crimes.
Personal crimes are most commonly generalized as a violent crime that causes physical, emotional, or psychological harm to the victim. These crimes are offenses against the person, and can include but are not limited to:
• Assault and Battery: Assault refers to the intentional creation of a reasonable apprehension of harm. In other words, assault is a situation in which one person causes another person to fear being harmed. Assault and battery are most commonly considered two distinct personal crimes, although many states do merge the two crimes into the one crime known as “assault and battery.” Battery refers to the unauthorized application of force against another person’s body. This results in offensive touching, or actual physical injury. As some jurisdictions define assault as attempted but failed battery, battery charges are commonly grouped with assault to form the single charge of assault and battery;
• False Imprisonment: False imprisonment refers to one person forcibly restraining another person, against their will, with a risk of being seriously injured or killed. Any person who intentionally restricts another person’s freedom of movement, without their consent, may be liable for false imprisonment;
• Kidnapping: Kidnapping is defined as the carrying away or confinement of a person by force or deception, without that person’s consent. In other words, kidnapping is the seizure and detention of a person without their consent, while intending to carry away the person at a later time, hold the person for ransom, etc;
• Homicide: Homicide includes crimes such as first and second degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and vehicular homicide; and
• Rape: Rape also includes statutory rape and sexual assault.
Property crimes, or offenses against property, do not necessarily involve the harm of another person. Rather, these crimes involve interference with another person’s right to use or enjoy their own property. Some examples of property crimes include but are not limited to:
• Theft: Larceny refers to a type of theft in which a person takes another person’s property and carries it away, with the intent to permanently deprive the legal owner of their property. Robbery is known as theft by force, and may also be considered a personal crime as it often results in physical and mental harm. Burglary occurs when a person breaks and enters into a home or building, intending to commit a crime. This crime is generally theft, although assault or arson may also constitute burglary;
• Arson: Arson is the willful and malicious burning or charring of another person’s property or structure;
• White Collar Crimes: Embezzlement refers to a type of white collar crime in which a person entrusted with the finances of another person or business illegally takes that money for their own personal use. Forgery is another example of a white collar property crime, because it is the creation, alteration, forging, or imitation of any document with the intent to defraud another person of their property;
• False Pretenses: False pretenses refers to a combination of fraud and larceny, in which a person misrepresents in order to obtain the property of another; and
• Receipt of Stolen Goods: It is a crime to receive or purchase property that you know or believe to be stolen, or otherwise obtained through theft.
Inchoate, or incomplete, refers to crimes that were initiated but not brought to completion. A person would need to take a substantial step towards completing a crime, as opposed to simply intending to commit a crime. A few examples of inchoate crimes include:
• “Attempted” crimes, such as attempted robbery, attempted murder, etc.;
• Solicitation: Crimes involving requesting, asking, hiring, commanding, or encouraging someone else to commit a crime; and
• Conspiracy: Crimes involving multiple actors coming together to engage in criminal activity.
Statutory crimes are violations of specific state or federal statutes. They may involve either property offenses or personal offenses. An example of this would be alcohol related crimes, such as DUI or selling alcohol to a minor.
The seriousness of a crime is generally categorized as either a misdemeanor, or a felony. Misdemeanors are typically less serious crimes such as shoplifting. Misdemeanors generally carry a fine of up to $1,000 with no more than one year being spent in a jail facility, if any time is to be spent in jail at all. Felony crimes are considered to be more serious in nature, such as kidnapping, and have heavier punishments. In addition to higher fines, felonies are generally punished with a prison sentence of one year or more, to be carried out in a state prison facility. State laws may categorize crimes, such as categorizing offenses against the person as either violent crimes or nonviolent crimes. Crimes may be categorized by their criminal intent. General Intent Crimes and Specific Intent Crimes are differentiated by the state of mind necessary to be found guilty. As crimes are not easy to define, and each state may categorize crimes differently, you should absolutely consult with a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney if you are being accused of committing a crime. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand what constitutes a crime and what your rights are. Additionally, the attorney can determine if any defenses are available to you based on the specifics of your case. Finally, an attorney can represent you in a court of law as needed.
Functions of Criminal Law
Criminal law serves several purposes and benefits society in the following ways:
• Maintaining order: Criminal law provides predictability, letting people know what to expect from others. Without criminal law, there would be chaos and uncertainty.
• Resolving disputes: The law makes it possible to resolve conflicts and disputes between quarreling citizens. It provides a peaceful, orderly way to handle grievances.
• Protecting individuals and property. Criminal law protects citizens from criminals who would inflict physical harm on others or take their worldly goods. Because of the importance of property in capitalist America, many criminal laws are intended to punish those who steal.
• Providing for smooth functioning of society. Criminal law enables the government to collect taxes, control pollution, and accomplish other socially beneficial tasks.
• Safeguarding civil liberties. Criminal law protects individual rights.
What Does A Defense Attorney Do At Trial?
The job of a defense attorney is to analyze the evidence against a client and advise on the appropriate plea and possible sentence. If a client pleads not guilty, the solicitor will represent the client at trial; testing the prosecution evidence and promoting the client’s case, and ensuring that the client has a fair trial. In cases where the client has pleaded guilty, the job is to direct the court to the appropriate sentence and highlight the good points about their client so that they receive as fair a sentence as possible.
What Will A Defense Attorney Do For You?
At the start of a criminal defense case, a defense attorney will obtain details of the allegations against you, and take your detailed instructions. That may lead to the need to gather evidence to support your case. This will include interviewing your witnesses. The attorney will also research the statutes, cases, and procedural rules that may be useful when defending your case in court in order to prepare a defense strategy.
Building a defense strategy
When building your defense, a criminal defense attorney will identify the strengths and weaknesses of your case and will inform you of the pros and cons of pleading guilty or not guilty, taking both the law and your individual circumstances into account.
Before a trial
Your criminal defense attorney will then prepare your case in accordance with your defense strategy. They will analyze all the evidence both for and against you before a trial, so that cross examination of the prosecution witnesses can be planned, and a proper running order can be put into place for calling your witnesses. If there are any opportunities for applications to be made to limit the prosecution evidence, or to dismiss a case, your criminal defense attorney will ensure that these are put into place. Your criminal defense attorney will also be there to listen to any last-minute worries or concerns that you may have before the trial takes place. If there is any new evidence to be taken into consideration, they will make sure that this is highlighted as quickly as possible.
During a trial
Your criminal defense attorney will be there to argue your case and to cross examine relevant witnesses. Depending on your plea, your solicitor will be working to clear you of charges, or to ensure that a fair punishment or sentence is given to you. They will do their best to make sure that a judge and jury, or bench of magistrates, put into perspective the allegation that you have been accused of, and take full account of any remorse, rehabilitation or personal circumstances that are relevant to your sentencing.
After a trial
If your trial was not successful, or if an unduly harsh sentence has been imposed, depending on the circumstances of your case, your criminal defense solicitor will advise you fully about appeals and where appropriate will begin the appeal process.
Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506