Rule 7 Sets Forth What Must Happen in the Event of an Arrest
Rule 7 of the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure governs what law enforcement must do if they make an arrest without a warrant. That rule was recently changed for the benefit of criminal defendants. One of the important changes made is that a written probable cause statement must be presented to a judge to determine if there are sufficient facts to continue to detain the arrested person. This written statement must be filed within 24 hours of the arrest and if it is not made within that specified time frame the arrestee must be immediately released. This is a significant change from the prior rule which was a 48 hour time period, but which courts and jails somehow interpreted to mean 72 hours. The new rule leaves no opening for such a determination.
Quicker Bail Hearings
The other advantage the new rule gives those accused of committing crimes is that it gives them an almost immediate bail hearing. Prior to this rule criminal defense lawyers had to give prosecutors written notice that would be asking the court for a bail hearing and to actually get that hearing could take days. The new rule requires the judge who makes an affirmative probable cause determination
to thereafter “immediately make a bail determination.” What this means for defendants and their attorneys is that they no longer have to give prosecutors notice of the bail hearing and can instead show up to court within 24 hours of arrest and ask the judge to address the factors relevant to setting bail. This gives the judge more discretion to deviate from the Uniform Bail Schedule because they can more quickly consider relevant facts that they otherwise were not able to consider so quickly, such as facts relating to whether the accused is a danger to society and what his ties to the community may be.
Bona Fide Emergency
Finally, the new rule handcuffs law enforcement from bringing the probable cause statement after the 24 hours but making an exception only in the case of a “bona fide emergency or other extraordinary circumstance,” basically telling law enforcement that if they don’t get it in within the 24 hour time frame the arrestee will be released.
Overall this is a good amendment to the rule which was previously abused. Count this as a win for individual rights.