Sentencing in Utah
Anytime a defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor offense in Utah the defendant has to be sentenced. At sentencing the court can consider just about any information about the defendant that is presented by either the prosecutor or the defendant himself. The court will consider the defendant’s criminal history, the facts of the underlying conviction, any input from any victims, whether the defendant is employed, whether the defendant has a prior history of substance abuse, etc.
The court has total discretion to determine what the appropriate sentence should be, but the court is limited by the amount of jail time as prescribed by statute. Class A misdemeanors can result in no more than one year in jail; class B’s, no more than six months; class C’s, no more than 90 days.
Typically, class B or C misdemeanors won’t result in jail unless the defendant has repeated offenses. Class A’s are more likely to result in jail time depending on what type of crime it is. For example, a sex crime or a Class A Utah DUI is much more likely to result in jail time than a first time drug offense or retail theft.
Court’s can also include probation, therapy, fines, community service, and other penalties as part of the sentencing terms.
Sometimes the occasional justice court will implement a crazy sentence, such as putting someone in jail for 90 days on a first time criminal mischief case. In situations like that, you can request a review hearing to give the judge an opportunity to release the defendant from jail. Often times a justice court judge will issue a harsh sentence only to become more lenient at a review hearing.
Motions to Stay and Appeals
If a review hearing fails and the defendant is still within the 30 day time frame to file an appeal in the district court, an appeal and a motion to stay the sentence may be another way to get out of jail. At the same time that an appeal is filed the defendant can file a motion to stay. The justice court can decide to stay the sentence and let the defendant out of jail or deny the motion. If the judge denies the motion, the defendant can ask the district court to overrule the justice court. If the district court denies the motion, the defendant is basically out of luck.
Call our law firm for your case. Sentencing should be fair and we work hard to make sure it is. Call our attorneys at 801.618.1334 for a free consultation.