Criminal Defendants’ Constitutional Rights
Anyone who is charged with a crime in Utah has very specific constitutional rights that apply to each criminal defendant throughout the entire proceeding. Those rights include:
- You have the right to be represented by an attorney. The court will appoint an attorney at no cost to you if: a) you cannot afford an attorney; and b) there is the possibility of a jail sentence for the offense. Later, you may have to pay for the appointed attorney’s service if the court determines you are able to do so.
- You have the right to represent yourself. If you do so, the court cannot advise you on how to handle your case, and you will be required to comply with technical legal rules. There may be disadvantages to proceeding without an attorney. For any future hearing, you must: a) represent yourself; b) hire an attorney; or c) if you cannot afford an attorney, request a court-appointed attorney by filing an affidavit at least 10 days before the proceeding. Failure to exercise option b or c will be treated as an implied waiver of your right to counsel.
- You have the right to a speedy public trial before an impartial jury. If you want a jury trial, you must make a written demand at least 10 days prior to trial. You are not entitled to a jury trial if you are charged only with an infraction.
- You have the right to confront and cross-examine the prosecution witnesses in open court.
- You have the right to call witnesses and compel by subpoena their attendance and testimony. If you cannot afford to pay for the attendance of witnesses, the prosecution will pay those costs.
- You have the right to testify on your behalf. Any statement you make may be used against you. You may refuse to testify, and no one can make you testify or give evidence against yourself. Your refusal to testify cannot be held against you.
- You are presumed innocent until: a) you plead guilty or no contest; or b) the prosecution proves you guilty. The prosecution has the burden of proving each of the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. A jury verdict must be unanimous.
- You have the right to bail. If you post bail, you will be released on: a) the condition you appear in court for future proceedings; and b) any other conditions the court imposes. Bail may be modified on proper motion, notice, and findings.
If you decide to enter into a plea agreement, you waive all of the rights listed above. It is very important that you understand these rights before entering into any kind of plea arrangement in a Criminal Defense. For more information concerning the rights you have if you are facing criminal charges, call our defense lawyers at 801.413.1753 for a free over the phone consultation.