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Utah Court Records

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What Do You Do if You Are On Trial For a Crime in Utah

When charged for a crime in Utah, the defendant is expected to seek legal assistance.Where the defendant does not have the financial capacity to cover associated legal fees, the court is obligated to assign an attorney from the public defender’s office to them. Depending on the severity of the alleged charges, the attorney must advise the defendant on the best way forward.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What Percentage of Criminal Cases go to Trial in Utah

About 90% of all criminal cases in Utah enter the guilty plea. As a result, a considerable percentage of guilty verdicts in Utah result from guilty pleas and agreements. Nonetheless, state court statistics reveal that about one in ten cases is still resolved through criminal trial proceedings.

When does a Criminal Defendant Have the Right to a Trial?

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that defendants in all criminal prosecutions have the right to a speedy, public, and impartial trial. As a general rule in Utah, criminal defendants charged with committing felonies or misdemeanors that are punishable by jail time are entitled to a jury trial. Infractions that are punishable by monetary fines or compensatory service do not necessarily require criminal trials because they are not crimes according to state laws.

What are the Stages of a Criminal Trial in Utah

According to Rule 17 of the Utah criminal procedure, the stages of the Utah criminal trials include:

  • Jury Selection
  • Opening Statements
  • Prosecution’s Case in Chief
  • Motion to Dismiss
  • Defense’ Case in Chief
  • Rebuttal
  • Jury Instructions
  • Closing Arguments
  • Jury Deliberations
  • Delivery of Verdict
  • Judgment and Sentencing

How Long Does it Take For a Case to Go to Trial in Utah?

In Utah, the average period for a case to go to trial is between 60 and 120 days or about two to four months, depending on the charges. When a criminal suspect is taken into custody, the prosecutor handling the case has only 72 hours to file charges against the individual or release the arrestee. If the prosecutor files charges, a date will immediately be scheduled for the defendant’s arraignment.

State laws demand that the court schedules a defendant’s trial at the earliest practicable time after the individual is formally charged and after consulting with the defense and the prosecution.

What Happens When a Court Case Goes to Trial in Utah

The Utah criminal trial goes as follows:

  • Jury Selection:

The judge and attorneys question a panel of prospective jurors to determine the impartial candidates.

  • Opening Statements:

The attorneys are allowed to address the jury directly. Here, they give a summary of the case, indicate evidence that will be presented, and facts that will be proven from their point of view.

  • Prosecution’s Case in Chief:

The prosecution will try to prove the defendant’s guilt by questioning witnesses and presenting evidence that reinforces the claim. During this process, the defense can object to evidence or questions and cross-examine witnesses to disprove their testimonies.

  • Motion to Dismiss:

The defense attorney can move a motion to dismiss if the prosecution cannot prove that the defendant committed the crime. If this motion is granted, the trial is dismissed; if not, the trial continues.

  • Defense Case in Chief:

If the motion to dismiss is denied, the defense gets the chance to call its witnesses and present valid evidence to prove the defendant’s innocence. The prosecution is also allowed to cross-examine the witnesses and make relevant objections.

  • Rebuttal:

The prosecution gets to amplify its case by recalling witnesses or introducing new ones to challenge the defense’s evidence. Here, the prosecution is focused on refuting the defense’s claims from the previous stage and not necessarily adding new information to the case.

  • Jury Instructions:

The judge informs the jury of the relevant laws that apply to the case and also explains the prosecution’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • Closing Arguments:

After jury instructions, both attorneys get to address the jury one last time, where they are expected to state the facts mentioned in the trial. Just like the opening arguments, the prosecution speaks first, then the defense, and finally, the prosecution again. Still, the attorneys have the choice to waive the closing arguments.

  • Jury Deliberations:

The jury moves to a separate chamber to discuss the facts of the case. Occasionally, they may ask to re-examine pieces of the exhibited evidence or for the documented transcript to be read again. This is where they decide their verdict.

  • Delivery of Verdict:

The jury’s verdict must be unanimous; otherwise, the judge can call a “hung” or undecided jury. A hung jury implies that the judge will declare a mistrial and order a new trial with a new jury. The verdict could be any of the following:

  • Guilty
  • Guilty and mentally ill
  • Not guilty
  • Not guilty by reason of insanity
  • Judgment and Sentencing:

The sentencing hearing is usually scheduled after the verdict is read. Commonly in the state of Utah, sentencing must be passed between two and forty-five days from the conviction.

Can you be Put on Trial Twice for the Same Crime in Utah?

No, under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Title 76, Part 4 of the Utah code, no citizen of the state shall be prosecuted twice for the same crime. Even so, federal law considers the state government and the United States government as dual sovereigns. That is, as two distinct sources of authority. Hence, either government may prosecute an individual for the same criminal act without violating the double jeopardy clause or the defendant’s fifth amendment rights.

How Do I Lookup a Criminal Court Case in Utah

Respective courthouses in Utah store and maintain records of cases handled within their jurisdiction. As a result, criminal court case information in the state can be obtained from the courthouse where the case of interest was filed. Interested parties can locate and visit the courthouse to request copies of criminal court cases. Although these court records are open for public inspection, they do not contain home addresses, social security numbers, corporate trade secrets, etc.

How to Access Electronic Court Records in Utah

Utah Unified Court System manages all electronic court records in the state. It provides an online fee-based system used to search and access the appellate court, justice court, and district court records dating as far back as 2010. Users can also inspect court transcripts, review court filings, and even file cases online with the provided self-help feature.

Additionally, third party sites such as Utahcourtrecords.us also provide inquirers with a vast repository of criminal court case information on request. However, records that are deemed private or sealed by court order will be unavailable on these platforms.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How Do I Remove Public Court Records in Utah

In Utah, expunging a criminal record removes it from public view, thereby sealing its arrest and conviction history by court order. Nonetheless, even if a criminal record is expunged, some government officials may still view and copy it under certain circumstances. The court can also reverse the expungement order to unseal the records if the need arises.

Expunging Criminal Conviction Records

Not all conviction records can be expunged in Utah. To expunge conviction records, the individual must first make sure that all fines, sentences, and other obligations attached to that conviction are fulfilled.

The following records do not qualify for expungement under Utah law unless the individual was pardoned for the offense:

  • Capital or first-degree felony as defined in Title 76 of the Utah Code
  • A felony violation of driving under the influence as defined in Title 41 of the Utah Code
  • Any crime that requires the defendant to register as a sex offender

Pursuant to Title 77 of the state code, petitioners will be unable to expunge any crime if there any pending criminal cases, false information on the certificate of eligibility, and if the individual has been convicted separately for two or more felonies or misdemeanors.

If the petitioner’s record is eligible for expungement, the individual must satisfy the waiting period before applying for one. The waiting period for some crimes in Utah include:

  • Misdemeanors infringing the Utah Traffic Code: 10 years
  • Felonies infringing the Utah Controlled Substance Act: 10 years
  • Other felonies: 7 years
  • Class A misdemeanors: 5 years
  • Class B misdemeanors: 4 years
  • Other misdemeanors or infractions: 3 years

Process

The petitioner has to apply and obtain the certificate of eligibility from the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification. After obtaining the certificate, the papers should be filed in court within the next 90 days because the certificate is valid only for 90 days from the day it is issued. It should be filed in the sentencing court along with the expungement forms provided by the State Judicial Branch. Petitioners are advised to make copies of these papers before filing the originals with the court. Generally, some financial obligations will be required, but the individual may consider asking the court to waive the filing fees.

After filing, the individual has to serve the prosecutor’s office in person or via mail with a self-addressed stamped envelope. The envelope will be instrumental in receiving the signed Acceptance of Service form and the Consent and Waiver of Hearing form. The prosecutor’s office has 35 days to respond by sending in the signed forms or filing an objection. If an objection is filed, a hearing will be scheduled. At the hearing, the petitioner must prove that all statutory requirements have been met and that expunging the records is not contrary to the public interest.

If the request is granted, the court will enter an order to expunge all records of the conviction.

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