General Information for Traffic Matters
If you have been charged with committing a traffic violation in Taylorsville, the following information may help you through the criminal justice system. Bear in mind that traffic violations are criminal matters by nature. The Court follows all applicable rules, statutes, and codes governing trial procedure. However, the following general information is provided as a guide to assist you. For specific legal advice concerning your case, you must consult an attorney. Neither the Court nor the clerks may provide legal assistance to you.
Everytime you arrive for court, you should check in first with the court clerks at the front counter. Additional information may be provided to you by the clerks concerning your hearing or case. Usually, you will be sent to a room to watch a short video explaining the court proceeding and your Constitutional Rights. You will then be given a form to request that your case be called. Fill out the form and give it to the court clerk, when you are ready to have the judge call your case to be heard.
What’s the difference between Non-Mandatory Appearance Matters & Mandatory Appearance Matters?
Some traffic violations have been designated as non-mandatory appearance matters. If you are cited for violating a traffic ordinance for which your appearance in court is not mandatory, you may contact the Court to find out the amount of the bail for your offense(s). If you do not dispute the citation, you may choose to simply pay the bail amount. You may pay by check or money order through the mail. If you would like to pay by cash, credit card or you want to set up a payment schedule, you must come to court during regular business hours. If you do not post bail within fourteen days, a late fee will be assessed and a warrant for your arrest may be issued. If you wish to dispute the citation or if you are cited for violating a traffic ordinance for your which appearance in court is mandatory, you must appear at the Court in not less than five (5) days and not more than fourteen (14) days after issuance of the citation. When you appear at the Court, you may set a date for your matter to be heard by the Court.
You must come to Court on the date and at the time set by the court.
How can I keep this ticket off my Driving Record?
A plea-in-abeyance is a guilty plea which is submitted to the Court in writing. If approved, it is not entered against you during the term of the plea-in-abeyance period. It is held by the Court and not reported to the Driver’s License Division as a conviction, but as a plea-in-abeyance. The court clerk can check to see if you qualify for a plea-in-abeyance. If you choose to enter a plea-in-abeyance, you must completely fill out the necessary paperwork.
You will be instructed on certain terms and conditions which must be met in order for your plea to be held. Unless you are notified to the contrary, you must fully comply with each of the terms and conditions of your plea-in-abeyance agreement. If you fully comply, then, at the end of the plea-in-abeyance period, your guilty plea will be withdrawn and the case will be dismissed. The matter will not appear as a conviction on your driving record and no points will be assessed. If you are unable to resolve your matter with the Prosecutor, your matter will be heard by the Court.
What are Traffic School & "Points"?
The City of Taylorsville offers a traffic school. You are not required to attend Taylorsville’s Traffic School and may attend any of the local recognized traffic schools. If traffic school is imposed as a condition of your probation or plea-in-abeyance, you will need to provide proof of attendance to the Court.
Points are assessed to your driving record for traffic violations by the Drivers License Division of the Department of Public Safety. Excess points may lead to the suspension of your driving privilege. In limited cases, the Court may make recommendations to the Driver’s License Division, but they are not required to abide by these recommendations. Some traffic schools may decrease the number of points on your record, you are advised to check with the Drivers License Division to find out which schools qualify for reduction.
Can I Resolve Matters Through the Prosecutor?
If after reviewing your record and the offense for which you were charged, the prosecutor finds that you qualify to have your matter resolved, you may receive a reduction in the fine or be offered an opportunity to request that the Court hold your plea-in-abeyance. If you agree to forfeit bail to a lesser charge, you may do so immediately.
What is an Arraignment?
The first step in the judicial process for traffic matters is an arraignment. You may waive your right to an arraignment. At the arraignment, you will be notified of the charge(s) brought against you, the location, the date and time at which the crimes are alleged to have occurred. You may enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest at this time. You are not required to enter a guilty at this time.
A video presentation explaining your Constitutional rights will be played. In addition, a waiver of Constitutional Rights Form is available for you to read. 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 your offense is jailable if convicted. Attorneys are rarely appointed in traffic matters as most traffic offenses are not jailable.
If an attorney is not appointed, you may 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 an attorney. 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 an Request for Legal Defender/Affidavit of Indigency. Fill out the Request for Legal Defender/Affidavit of Indigency and have it ready when your case is called. If you plead guilty or no contest, you have the right to delay hearing your sentence or can ask to be sentenced that day. If you plead guilty or no contest, you will be giving up important Constitutional rights.
If you plead not guilty, your case will be set for a trial. Either you or the prosecution may request that your matter be set for a pretrial conference in lieu of an immediate trial setting. Generally, a pretrial conference is helpful if there is evidence available which can be used to resolve a charge without a trial, such as providing proof of insurance, driver’s license or registration.
What is a Pretrial Conference?
If your matter is set for a Pretrial Conference, you will have the opportunity to discuss your case with the prosecutor. The prosecutor may offer to reduce the charge in exchange for your guilty plea or no contest plea ("plea bargain"). The prosecutor is not obligated to offer a plea bargain and you have no right to a plea bargain. You are not obligated to accept the offer made by the prosecutor. The Court will not reduce the charge against you on its own motion. If you and the prosecutor are unable to resolve your case at the pretrial conference, your case will be set for a jury trial or bench trial. The pretrial conference provides you a chance to show the prosecutor any evidence which might convince the prosecutor to reduce or dismiss your charge(s). For example, you may have proof of a driver’s license or registration. You may have proof of insurance or a receipt showing repair of an equipment violation.
After reviewing your evidence/proof, the prosecutor may offer to reduce or dismiss your charge(s). Again, the prosecutor is not obligated to do so, nor are your obligated to accept their offer. If you are unable to resolve the matter, a trial will be scheduled.
What are the procedures and rules for 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. Usually, traffic offenses are not eligible 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, 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 of 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 Code and Rules of Criminal Procedure. After your finish presenting your side of the story, then both sides will have the opportunity to rebut the other side. This is done by presenting additional testimony or evidence. Again, the prosecutor goes first, then you will 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 end. If you are found guilty, then you will have the right to be sentenced in not less than two days nor more than forty-five days. In most cases, you may waive this right and receive your sentencing immediately.
What are the possible Sentences and Punishments?
The following table shows the range of penalties which the Court may impose:
In addition to the base fine, the State of Utah requires that defendants convicted of certain crimes pay a surcharge. The surcharge varies depending upon the crime. You can view the Uniform Fine and Bail Schedule to find out the recommended fine or bail for your offense(s).
You may receive probation from the Court in lieu of a jail term. If the Court imposes probation, the Court will explain to you each of the terms and conditions of your probation. You must full comply with each term of your probation.