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Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer - Plea in Abeyance Attorney

A Utah plea in abeyance agreement can give you the opportunity to have your case dismissed without taking the risks involved in a jury trial. Utah criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard has successfully negotiated plea in abeyance agreements in cases ranging from first-degree felonies to less serious misdemeanor charges. He is also an experienced criminal trial attorney in cases ranging from murder to misdemeanors. He has the experience to help protect your rights whether you want to resolve your case or take it "all the way" to trial. Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation.

Getting a Plea in Abeyance in Utah

The only way to obtain a plea in abeyance is through negotiations with the prosecuting attorney. Under Utah law, not even a judge can order that a plea be held in abeyance if the prosecuting attorney does not agree with that resolution.

In order to convince a prosecutor that you deserve to have your plea held in abeyance, it is may be helpful to expose flaws or problems in the prosecution's case. But doing so may also put you at a disadvantage if you end up taking your case to trial. An experienced criminal trial lawyer can help you understand the risks involved in disclosing strategic information during plea negotiations, and determine what information can safely be discussed with the prosecutor.

A prosecuting attorney may also consider, in determining whether to offer a plea in abeyance agreement, the various mitigating information that your attorney can present on your behalf. This information can include a lack of prior criminal history, rehabilitative steps that you have taken since the alleged offense occurred (such as participation in treatment), character information, education, employment, and other relevant factors.

Prosecutors also consider the severity of the offense involved. The more serious the charge, the less likely a prosecuting attorney will be to agree to offer a plea in abeyance.

How a Utah Plea in Abeyance Works

A plea in abeyance is an agreement whereby, if you comply with certain conditions given by the court, the criminal case against you will be dismissed. Once the case is dismissed, you will normally be eligible to begin the expungement process after 30 days.

The benefits of having your plea held in abeyance offer are substantial. But there are risks as well. Before accepting any plea in abeyance offer, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to ensure that you understand your rights and that a plea in abeyance really is the best way to resolve your case.

As part of the plea in abeyance agreement, you must plead guilty (or sometimes a no contest plea). That plea is not "entered" as a conviction. Instead, the charges will be treated as a pending case during the abeyance period. (Note, however, that there are a few limited circumstances - such as federal immigration law - where a plea in abeyance is treated as a conviction.) If you follow through with the conditions of the the court, the case will be dismissed.

If you fail to meet the required conditions or are accused of committing new crimes during the abeyance period, that plea can be entered and become a conviction. Once convicted, you can be sentenced to jail or prison just as if you had been convicted at trial or had entered an ordinary plea.

When negotiating a case, your attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor to reduce the charges as part of the negotiated resolution. But if the offer involves holding the plea in abeyance, many Utah prosecutors will require that the plea be entered "as charged." If you follow through with the terms of the plea in abeyance agreement, the level of the charge is less important since the case will ultimately be be dismissed. But if you don't follow through, you can be punished even more severely if the charge was not reduced.

When considering whether to accept a plea in abeyance offer, seriously and honestly ask yourself whether you can and will follow through with it. If you do not think you will follow through, you may be better off taking a standard offer on a lower charge. But if you intend to follow through, a plea in abeyance agreement gives you a chance to keep a conviction off your record.

Finding a Criminal Lawyer in Salt Lake City, Utah

Stephen Howard is an experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer. Based in Salt Lake City, he provides defense services to clients throughout Utah. His record of success includes dismissals, not guilty verdicts, and appellate reversals in some of the most serious criminal charges on the books in Utah. He has also negotiated plea in abeyance agreements for clients facing serious felony charges as well as a variety of misdemeanor offenses.

Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation and case analysis with Utah criminal lawyer Stephen Howard.


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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

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