Criminal Cases

Under the law a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  Additionally, the city has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed the offense alleged.

A defendant will be notified of a case against him or her by citation, summons, or arrest. Failure to respond to a citation or summons or appear in court may result in a warrant issued for the defendant’s arrest and/or a suspended driver’s license.

First Appearance / Arraignment

At the time of first appearance, the judge will informs the defendant of the charges his or her rights. The defendant will be asked to enter a plea. The defendant may plead not guilty (to contest the charges), guilty, or no contest. A no contest plea does not admit guilt, but is a way to recognize that the prosecution has sufficient information to pursue the charge and opt not to contest.  The same penalties may be imposed for a no contest plea as would be imposed on a guilty plea. If the defendant pleads not guilty, a pretrial conference is scheduled. If the defendant pleads guilty or no contest, the case moves to the sentencing phase.

Pretrial Conference:

If you plead “not guilty” you will be scheduled for a pretrial conference.  At this conference you will have the opportunity to talk with the city prosecutor about your case. If you can reach an agreement with the prosecutor, he or she will inform the judge and the judge will hear your case.  The judge must approve any plea agreement before it becomes final. If you cannot reach an agreement with the prosecutor, and you still need to contest the charges, a trial will be scheduled.

Trial:

During the trial the prosecution has the opportunity to present its evidence against you in order to satisfy burden of proof.  A defendant has the right to present a defense and testify on his or her behalf. The trial will follow the following format: opening statements, the prosecution’s case, the defendant’s case, and closing arguments. After both parties have rested and closing arguments have been presented, the judge will make a decision.

Utah Court Rules:

Criminal cases are governed by the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure.

What evidence can be admitted at trial is governed by the Utah Rules of Evidence.

Additional Resources:

Additional information about your criminal case can be found at utcourts.gov.

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