A prior conviction depends on the type of conviction, when it happened, and how long ago was it. Typically, if you have a DUI, and it was over eight years ago, it is not going to affect your case moving forward. Prosecutors look to see if the cases are related. Are we looking at the third drug offense within a few years? Are we looking at the third offense within thirty years? All of those things are correlated. Obviously, the more criminal charges you have, the worse off it is, because they are showing that you are a problem to society. They are going to want to impose harsher penalties. There are offenses that can escalate, meaning that if you have some theft crimes in the past, or future theft crimes, those can be enhanced by your prior theft, because they want repeat offenders to be incarcerated.
It is very important to get rid of prior crimes to expunge those as soon as you can, and then to stay out of trouble from now on.
Are There Alternative Punishments To Jail In Utah For Criminal Offenses?
Yes, there are alternative programs in Utah. It really depends on the circumstance. Every judge is different. There are some judges in our district that are harsh, and there are some that go back and forth, they bounce around. Sometimes, someone for the exact same charge will get ten days in jail, and someone else will get community service. It really depends on the judges, and the deals you get with the prosecutors. If you can, typically, forty-eight hours of community service can be the equivalent of two days in jail. Most of the time, people are willing to do community service.
The community service can be done through a coordinator, through the country, or through the city where the crime took place, but it can also be done through a church, or through the food bank, or any other charitable organization. Therefore, it can be flexible. There are options for house arrest, probation, good behavior probation, meaning that you do not incur any more crimes for a certain period, except minor traffic violations, those are usually okay. Typically, we have seen them as short as three months, or as long as five years. It really depends on the gravity of the crime committed.
We have been able to get some diversion agreements done, and get things diverted. It is essentially, “Hey, you’ll be good now and we’re not going to bring these charges at all”. Sometimes, if there is any inclination that there is an investigation, or that some type of crime has been committed, you want to get an attorney as quickly as possible for your case.We can call those prosecutors, and get deals put in place, or we can at least start to get deals put in place before charges are filed, which can prevent some embarrassment, or get something worked out beforehand, which can be very beneficial to you if you are looking at any type of charges.
What Qualities Should Someone Look For In A Criminal Defense Attorney?
You want to look for someone who has been practicing criminal law at length. You want someone who is familiar with the process. It is always good to have a former prosecutor on your side, because they know the ins and the outs of how the system works. Our office, we have had attorneys who have been both prosecutors, and city attorneys. They are very familiar with the system, both in district and justice court. You want to have somebody like that on your side that is very familiar with the process, which has done many of these types of cases before, knows the other attorneys, knows the prosecuting attorneys, and has a good reputation with them.
It is important, because you are going to make a plea deal, and you know the prosecutor. You have known him for ten years, and you are friends. You can get a better deal than the person who is coming from the outside, who is not familiar with this area of the law, who does not know the prosecutor, and is unfamiliar with the system. Typically, the prosecutors know when we are going to take a case to trial, because we have good evidence. Therefore, if they see that, they are more than willing to back down on their position, and offer us the result we are looking for.
What Are Some Red Flags To Consider When Hiring A Criminal Defense Attorney?
Red flags would be things like inexpensive amounts to represent a client. Inexpensive amounts, like $250, or $300 for an appearance, those types of attorneys are looking for just quick, easy money, and are not looking to do things that are in your own best interest. Any type of attorney that is doing twenty cases at a time in the same court, that is a little frustrating, because they do not have the time to spend to go over your case, and the time, and effort it deserves. I would look for any types of those things. Another thought is attorneys who are recently out of law school simply because they do not have the experience, and you do not want to be their test cases.
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