General Information on Criminal Matters
If you've been charged with committing a crime in Taylorsville, the following information may help you through the criminal justice system. The court follows all applicable rules, statutes, and codes governing trial procedure. However, the following general information is provided as a guide to assist criminal defendants. For specific legal advice concerning your case, you must consult an attorney. Neither the Court nor the clerks may provide legal advice to you.
You may request appointment of an attorney to represent you. An attorney will only be appointed to assist you if you cannot afford one and if you are charged with a misdemeanor. If an attorney is not appointed, you must hire your own attorney or represent yourself.
If an attorney is appointed, you may be required to repay some or all of the cost of the attorney if you are convicted. If you believe you will qualify for a court appointed attorney and would like to ask the Court to appoint one to you, you must ask the clerk for a Request for Legal Defender/Affidavit of Indigency. Fill out the Request for Legal Defender/Affidavit of Indigency and submit it to the bailiff or court clerk in the courtroom.
If you plead not guilty, your case will be set for a pretrial conference. If you plead guilty or no contest, you may be sentenced immediately or you can ask the court to delay sentencing for at least two days. If you plead guilty or no contest, you will be giving up important Constitutional rights.
At a pretrial conference, you will have a chance to meet with the prosecution to see if you can reach a resolution of the case.
If you reach a resolution, that will be presented to the court. If you do not reach a resolution, the case will be set for a bench or jury trial.
In a bench trial, the Court will hear the evidence presented by both sides, then decide whether you are guilty or not guilty. In a jury trial, a panel of four jurors will hear the case, then they will decide if you are guilty or not guilty. You only have a right to a jury trial if you can be jailed if found guilty. Most traffic offenses are not eligible to be heard by juries. Non-lawyers who desire a jury trial are encouraged to 1) get an attorney or 2) study the applicable rules, laws and codes governing jury trials. You can jeopardize your rights or liberty if you do not follow the rules.
Since the prosecution has the burden of proof to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, they have the first opportunity to speak to the court. This is called an opening statement. After the prosecution has made its opening statement, the defense has the option to make their opening statement or wait until the beginning of their turn to present evidence & witnesses.
The opening statement is an opportunity to briefly describe the types of evidence and what you hope the evidence will mean to the Court or the jury. Neither side is required to make an opening statement.
After the opening statements, the prosecution presents its "case-in-chief." The prosecutor will offer evidence to prove that a crime was committed and that you committed the crime. After the prosecution is done, you will have the opportunity to present your side of the story. Either side may present testimony by witnesses or submit documents, subject to the Utah Rules of Evidence and the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure.
After you finish presenting your side of the story, rebuttal evidence may be presented. This is done by presenting additional testimony or evidence. Again, the prosecutor goes first, then you may have a chance to speak. After each side is done, closing arguments are made.
During closing arguments, each side will have the opportunity to tell the Court why they are right. The prosecution gets to speak first, then you will get to argue your case, followed by a final argument by the prosecution. The case is then submitted to the Court or jury for a determination as to guilt. If you are found not guilty, then you are free to go and the proceedings will end.
If you are found guilty, then you can ask the court to delay your sentencing for two days. In most cases, you may waive this right and hear your sentence immediately. The Court may order that you take a blood test or report for a pre-sentence evaluation. If the Court so orders, then you will be instructed to report to an agency. It is important that you follow the instructions given to you as your failure to comply with the Court's order may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest and could affect your sentence.
The following table shows the range of penalties which the Court may impose:
It is important that you understand what you are required to do and what you are not allowed to do. Failure to comply with any court order could result in being taken off probation. If probation is taken away, you may have to serve or pay some or all of the suspended portions of your sentence (jailtime and fines).