The Stone Law Firm
At The Stone Law Firm, we believe that a well informed client
makes better decisions and can better manage the stress of a court case.
COVID update: nearly every Utah court hearing is being held via WebEx, a web based conferencing platform. For written instructions and to watch a video on how to join a WebEx conference, click here.
The following is a typical progression of a criminal case in Utah:
Initial Appearance: held within 72 hours (in custody felonies) and 1-2 months (misdemeanors and out of custody felonies) after the filing of the case: an initial appearance is one in which the judge informs the defendant of the crimes for which they have been charged, and inquires into the defendant's intent to hire an attorney, apply for the public defender, or represent themselves. The judge will give a defendant time to hire a private attorney if the defendant so desires. In addition, issues such as release to pretrial, a review of bail/bail conditions, and pretrial protective orders are addressed at this hearing.
Discovery Process: not a hearing, but rather a time during which the defense requests discoverable information from the prosecution. The defense files a request/motion for discovery at the time the attorney enters his/her appearance. Police reports, witness statements, body cam, dash cam, chemical testing and other evidence gets turned over to the defense. There is no specific time frame to provide discovery; sometimes complete discovery is provided immediately, sometimes it is provided piecemeal over a an extended period of time.
Scheduling Conference: typically held 2-4 weeks after Initial Appearance Hearing. This type of hearing is held in felony and class A misdemeanors to schedule preliminary hearings. The purpose of scheduling conferences is to schedule a preliminary hearing.
Preliminary Hearing: typically held approximately 3-6 weeks after the scheduling conference. This is a hearing held in felony and class A misdemeanor cases. A preliminary hearing is an evidentiary hearing where the prosecutor is required to put on sufficient evidence to convince a magistrate that probable cause exists that a crime was committed and that the defendant committed the crime.
Arraignment: typically held 1-3 weeks after preliminary hearing in class A and felony cases. In class B and C misdemeanor and infraction cases, arraignment occurs at the time of the initial appearance, and thus the hearings are referred to interchangeably. In class A misdemeanors and all felonies, arraignment occurs after waiver or bind over at the preliminary hearing. The purpose of arraignment is to formally put the defendant on notice of the charges and to take a plea.
Pretrial Conference: typically scheduled 3-5 weeks after arraignment/initial appearance in class B and C misdemeanor and infraction cases. Typically scheduled 2-4 weeks after arraignment in class A misdemeanor and felony cases. The purpose of the hearing is to determine if the case is going to resolve or whether motions hearings/trial should be scheduled.
Motions Hearing: these are typically evidentiary hearings and address the admissibility of evidence. Evidence may have been collected in violation of established procedures or in violation of a defendant's 4th amendment rights against unlawfully search and seizure.
Final Pretrial Conference: usually scheduled 1-3 weeks prior to trial, the purpose of this hearing is to determine if the parties are prepared to go forward to trial, or whether a continuance is needed for various reasons or whether the case has resolved.
Bench trial/Jury trial: the day has come for trial, which is anywhere between 3 months to a year or more after the case was filed. A bench trial is to a judge alone, a jury trial is to a jury. The number of jurors depends on the severity of the charged crime.
Sentencing: after a defendant has been convicted or has plead as part of plea negotiations, the defendant is sentenced. In felony cases (and some misdemeanor cases), the judge refers the matter to Adult Parole and Probation, for the preparation of a presentence investigation report. In most misdemeanor cases, the judge requests the county or a private probation company to prepare a presentence report. Many minor misdemeanors proceed to sentencing without a At the time of sentencing, the judge can impose jail, prison (in felony cases), supervised probation, fines, treatment, and sentencing protective orders, or any combination thereof.