Commonly Asked Questions
In almost all cases, an attorney can achieve a better result than someone who is not familiar with legal rules and strategy. However, if you are at all concerned about spending money, you will have to carefully consider whether your case is serious enough to merit hiring an attorney to represent you. Most routine traffic matters do not require an attorney because the consequences are minimal. However, if you have several other tickets already and one more ticket could result in a suspended license, then hiring an attorney may be worth the extra cost.
If you have been charged with a more serious crime, you will most likely face more severe penalties, and if you are convicted, that conviction will appear on your criminal record. This may affect your employment, your reputation, your freedom, your family, and your finances. In this case, you will have to decide if spending money to hire an attorney up front is worth achieving a better outcome overall. If you don’t know what all of the factors are that you should consider, you may want to call for a free consultation.
The cost for a criminal defense attorney can vary widely and different attorneys use different factors in deciding how much to charge. The most common factors attorneys consider are:
- The severity of the charges and possible consequences.
- The number of charges involved.
- The complexity of the case.
- The likelihood that the case will be taken to trial.
If they are still in jail, find out the amount of their bond, and either post the bond, or contact a bonding agent (also known as a professional surety), who for a fee can help post the bond. Most bondsmen charge 15% of the bond amount, which they keep as their fee. If it is a higher bond amount, they may be willing to reduce this amount to 10%. In some cases, the bondsman may want to hold a lien on a house or a car. Some may agree to graduated payments over time. We cannot recommend any specific bondsman, though there are hundreds listed in the phone book.
If you cannot post the bond, a judge may be willing to reduce bond. However, your loved one will have to wait until a judge reviews the case, which will require time in jail. If the person you care about has been arrested on a crime of domestic violence, they may not be released until a judge has issued a protective order, the terms of which may prevent the arrestee from returning home.
Once your loved one has been released, he or she must appear in court or you will forfeit the amount of the bond. If the case is serious, contact an attorney at Intermountain Legal.
A victim does not have the power to drop charges. Charges are brought by the prosecutor, upon recommendation of a police officer. A prosecutor may respect the wishes of a victim and drop the charges, but if there is enough evidence to support a case, it is unlikely the case will be dropped, especially in a crime of domestic violence.
Also, if you tell the prosecutor that you lied to the police about what happened, the prosecutor may charge you with filing a false police report, or may serve you with a subpoena when you go to court. If you are personally served with a subpoena, you must go to court. You may have the right to not testify in certain situations. You should consult with an attorney to know if you fit those circumstances. If you are a victim and feel you are in danger, most cities will have a victims’ advocate that you can call immediately and he or she can direct you to people and resources to keep you safe.
The penalties for a crime will depend on the level of crime it is and what the circumstances of your case are. In most cases, the judge will impose a fine or jail time as well as terms of probation for you to follow. Very often, the cost to complete probation will actually be more than the cost of the court fine. A table showing that potential court penalties for different levels is shown below (this does not include probation costs):
|1st Degree Felony||5yrs – Life||$10,000|
|2nd Degree Felony||1 – 15 yrs||$10,000|
|3rd Degree Felony||0 – 5 yrs||$5,000|
|Class A DUI||0 – 365 days||$2,000|
|Class A Misdemeanor||0 – 365 days||$2,500|
|Class B DUI||0 – 180 days||$1,500|
|Class B Misdemeanor||0 – 180 days||$1,000|
|Class C Misdemeanor||0 – 90 days||$750|
Most of the time, even when you do not have a defense attorney, a judge will not impose the maximum jail time or the maximum fine for each charge. However, if you have other crimes on your record, or if this is a DUI, the judge will more likely impose the full penalty. Also, if you have multiple charges, the judge may add the jail time and/or the fines together.
In addition to court fines, you must also be aware of additional costs associated with a conviction. If the crime is related to drugs or alcohol, or is a crime of domestic violence, you will usually have to complete treatment and do drug or alcohol testing. The cost of treatment and testing will depend on your individual circumstances, but can often add up to thousands of dollars.
Finally, some employers will not or cannot hire or promote employees with certain criminal convictions on their record. This can also affect you financially. If you are concerned about the potential penalties you are facing or have additional questions, you may want to contact our office for a consultation.
A warrant is an order signed by a judge that allows a police officer to arrest you and hold you in jail until you appear in court. Warrants are ordered for different amounts of money depending on the seriousness of the charges. If the charge is very serious, or you have missed court dates in the past, the judge can also issue a “no bail” warrant.
In cases where the warrant is for something very minor and the amount is very small, an officer usually will not take the time to arrest you and transport you to jail. However, if your warrant is for something more serious, and the amount is a little higher, then most officers will arrest you on the spot and bring you to the nearest jail. If this happens, the only way to get out without waiting hours or days to see a judge is to post bail.
The biggest difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is the potential punishment associated with each one. For a misdemeanor, you cannot serve more than one year, and you cannot be sent to prison, only jail. For a felony, you can serve more than a year, and the judge can sentence you to serve time in prison or jail.
The Utah State Legislature determines what actions are considered criminal and whether a crime is a misdemeanor or a felony under State law. The Legislature also determines how serious a crime is.