Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Utah
Call Criminal Defense Attorney in Utah
Call Utah Criminal Lawyer
Veteran Criminal Defense Lawyers / Former Prosecutors
Call 801-449-1409 now to see what our criminal defense team can do for you.
Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer Salt Lake City

Criminal Defense Solutions Start HereSM

Finding a Felony Defense LawyerChoosing a Misdemeanor Defense LawyerDrug and Alcohol Crimes Defense LawyerWhite Collar Defense Attorney for Utah ChargesAttorney for Expungements Reductions and PardonsDefendant Constitutional Rights Criminal LawyerBail and Bond Alternatives in UtahReasons for Hope Facing Criminal Charges

Do I need an attorney at an arraignment hearing in Utah?

As a general rule, it is best to have the assistance of a criminal defense attorney as soon as you learn that you are a suspect in a criminal case. It may not be absolutely necessary to have an attorney with you at your arraignment hearing. But to avoid making a mistake that will seriously hurt your case, you should first understand what will happen at an arraignment.

Arraignment Hearings in Utah Criminal Cases

The first court hearing in a misdemeanor case is the arraignment. The arraignment serves several purposes. At an arraignment hearing, the court is required to provide formal notice to the defendant of the nature of the criminal charges filed against the defendant. The court will inquire as to whether the defendant is represented by counsel, is planning to hire counsel, or is requesting the appointment of a public defender. The court will also ask the defendant to enter a plea of either guilty, no contest, or not guilty.

Why You Should not Plead Guilty at Arraignment

Entering a guilty plea or a no contest plea at the arraignment hearing is often one of the biggest mistakes made by a person facing criminal charges in Utah.

If a defendant pleads guilty (or no contest) at an arraignment hearing, the only significant issue left for the court to decide is what the punishment will be. In Utah misdemeanor cases, punishment can include substantial jail time and the potential for thousands of dollars in fines. Pleading guilty at an arraignment hearing without the assistance of an attorney deprives you of the meaningful opportunity to obtain discovery and police reports, to investigate, to file motions, to seek the suppression of evidence, or to take the case to trial.

In some courts, the prosecutor will not be present at the arraignment, and your only options will be to plead guilty as charged or not guilty. In other courts, a prosecutor may be present and may sometimes make a plea offer to reduce the charges or make a favorable sentencing recommendation.

Even if a prosecutor makes a plea offer at an arraignment hearing, without the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer you may not be able to immediately determine whether the offer is a good offer or not. In some cases, a prosecutor may make an initial offer that sounds good to an inexperienced defendant. But the reality may be that a much better offer can sometimes be obtained after conducting a thorough case analysis and developing a defense strategy.

By exposing potential holes in the prosecutor's case, an experienced criminal attorney may be able to negotiate a better offer. Or you may decide that the case merits setting a trial. Without the assistance of an experienced defense lawyer, you are at a severe disadvantage in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the case.

Felony Arraignments in Utah

In a felony case, an arraignment is not held until after the case is "bound over" for trial in the district court following a preliminary hearing or waiver of the preliminary hearing. In a felony case, you will normally have an attorney on the case long before the arraignment occurs.

Finding an Experienced Criminal Attorney in Utah

The sooner you have an attorney involved in your case the better your chances will be of obtaining a favorable outcome. Choosing the best Utah criminal defense lawyer for your case will be one of the most important decisions you make.

Based in Salt Lake City, criminal attorney Stephen Howard has successfully protected his clients' rights in thousands of serious felony and misdemeanor cases. His track record includes not guilty verdicts, dismissals, and appellate reversals on cases as serious as aggravated robbery, child kidnapping, first-degree felony drug distribution, white collar crime, and many more.

Contact us now to schedule an initial consultation with Salt Lake criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard.


Best Rating
Make a Payment to Your Account
Get Help Now
Name: Email: Phone: Describe your legal needs here:
I accept the disclaimer below.
Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is established by the use of this form. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be submitted through this form. By clicking 'submit' I am only requesting that I be contacted for the purpose of obtaining legal services.

This form protected by reCAPTCHA.

  • Selected Victories
  • Criminal Defense Trial AttorneyNot Guilty - Client was charged with aggravated assault for alleged attack using broken bottle as a weapon. Despite the testimony of numerous prosecution witnesses, thorough defense investigation to support a self-defense claim resulted in acquittal by jury at trial.
  • Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client was facing multiple cases involving first-degree felony drug distribution charges for allegedly selling to a confidential informant. Defense analysis of the case revealed fatal flaws in the prosecution case that ultimately resulted in a complete dismissal of all cases and charges.
  • 402 Reduction Lawyer Utah 2-Step Reduction - Client needed a two-step reduction to bring a prior conviction to the misdemeanor level. Collection of substantial evidence of reform and rehabilitation convinced a normally reluctant prosecutor to stipulate to the defense 402 reduction motion.
  • Violent Crimes Assalt Defense UtahProbation - Client charged with aggravated robbery based on allegations he entered a store with a gun and mask and demanded cash. Client confessed to police before hiring a defense attorney. Defense mitigation efforts resulted in a negotiated resolution that removed life in prison as a possibility, and secured a probation sentence from the court.
  • Recent Posts
  • What to Do When Arrested for DUI What should I do if I am arrested for DUI? - Many DUI cases begin as minor traffic stops. But the consequences of a DUI conviction are much more serious than an ordinary traffic citation. If you are pulled over for a suspected DUI, you have specific important constitutional and statutory rights that can protect your. . . .
  • Utah Statewide Warrant Search How do I find out if I have an outstanding warrant? - If you believe you may have an outstanding arrest warrant in Utah, a criminal defense attorney can access the Utah statewide warrant system and help you find the best. . . .
Best Utah Criminal Defense Strategy

The right criminal defense lawyer can work with you to develop a defense strategy designed to achieve the best results. Hiring a Utah criminal attorney with real courtroom experience and an in-depth understanding of the legal issues involved in defending against a criminal prosecution can help ensure the best...

Strategy »
Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Profile Utah

With decades of combined experience, our criminal defense team attorneys have the knowledge, skill, and determination to help you achieve the results you need. Facing criminal prosecution in Utah can have serious consequences. Choosing the best attorney to defend your case may be one of the most important decisions you will ever make....

Experience »
Conviction Consequences in Utah Criminal Prosecutions

Even a single misdemeanor conviction in Utah can result in extended jail time and substantial fines. The collateral consequences of a criminal conviction can last a lifetime. Whether you are facing misdemeanor prosecution in a justice court or more serious felony charges in the district court, obtaining advice and assistance from an experienced criminal defense attorney is....

Consequences »
Utah Criminal Defense Attorney - Reasons to Hope

Never give up hope. Being charged with a crime is not the same as being convicted. And it is usually not the end of the world. While the consequences of a criminal charge can be serious, there are often several options and strategies for handling your case. Understanding your options and how an experienced criminal lawyer can help....

Reasons to Hope »
Home | Attorney Profile | Case Results | Criminal Code | FAQ | Legal Resources | Defense Strategy | Contact Us

Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

The materials in this website are intended for informational purposes only, and are not legal advice. Viewing or responding to materials in this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Read Full Disclaimer.