Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Utah
Call Criminal Defense Attorney in Utah
Call Utah Criminal Lawyer
Veteran Criminal Defense Lawyer / Former Prosecutor
Call 801-449-1409 now to see what the right attorney can do for you.
Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer Salt Lake City

Criminal Defense Solutions Start HereSM

Contact Us

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
** All fields are required. **
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 AttorneyDismissed - Charges of insurance fraud were brought when investigators found reason to believe that client's claim of injury was fraudulent. Client was seen kicking a soccer ball, and investigators concluded that the injury claim was false. By obtaining medical records and other administrative records, and by pointing out to the prosecutor that the alleged injury interferred with the client's ability to lift - not his ability to kick a ball - the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case.
  • Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony drug distribution charge and potential life in prison. Charges were based on allegations that client had sold drugs to an undercover police officer, then made a full confession. Successful mitigation work resulted in negotiated offer of misdemeanor plea-in-abeyance and ultimate dismissal of case.
  • Utah 402 Reduction Attorney Felony Reduced - Client with prior felony conviction was granted a 402 reduction to the misdemeanor level over the objection of the prosecutor. Based on information provided to the court in support of the defense motion, the judge ruled in favor of the defense.
  • 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 Misdemeanor Attorney Salt Lake Can I handle a Utah misdemeanor from out-of-state? - Even if you do not intend to take your case to trial, a misdemeanor criminal offense in Utah can require multiple court appearances to reach a resolution. If you have been charged with a crime in Utah, but are not a Utah resident, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you resolve the case without returning to the state. . . .
Best Utah Criminal Defense Strategy

Successfully defending against criminal prosecution requires more than just an 'aggressive' defense. The best defense attorneys understand that a sophisticated defense requires a thorough understanding of a variety of nuanced legal issues, real experience in the courtroom, good negotiation skills, and much more. Fighting hard is good. Fighting smart is better....

Strategy »
Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Profile Utah

Defending against a criminal prosecution in Utah is a job that has to be done right the first time. Choosing the right attorney to defend you can be the most important decision you make. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling some of the most serious felony and misdemeanor charges on the books in Utah. No matter what charges you are facing, we can help....

Experience »
Conviction Consequences - Utah Criminal Defense

Even a "minor" misdemeanor carries the potential for jail time and significant fines. The direct penalties and collateral consequences of a felony conviction are even more severe. Understanding these consequences is critical as you make decisions relating to your case. Even in a misdemeanor case, you should not....

Consequences »
Criminal Defense Attorney in Utah - Reasons to Hope

Clients sometimes ask what the "worst case scenario" is for their charges. We prefer to take a more positive approach. Facing criminal prosecution in Utah can have serious consequences. But you can take steps and make choices right now that will improve your chances of a positive outcome. Let us help you....

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
340 East 400 South, Suite 25, 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.