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Utah Probation Violation Defense Attorney

When you are facing an order to show cause for a Utah probation violation, the risk of jail or prison time is very real. An experienced Utah criminal defense attorney can help give you the best chance of keeping your freedom. Stephen Howard has defended thousands of serious felony charges during his career, and has the experience to help achieve the results you need.

What is the process of dealing with a Utah order to show cause?

The Utah order to show cause process for a probation violation usually begins with an affidavit (a sworn statement) that alleges that you have violated the terms of your probation.

When you were placed on probation, the judge "suspended" a certain amount of jail or prison time, but ordered that you comply with certain conditions of probation. If you have failed to meet those terms, the supervising probation agency or prosecutor will prepare an affidavit that makes allegations regarding either what you did or did not do. The judge will review that affidavit and determine whether an Order to Show Cause is appropriate.

The term "order to show cause" is a short-hand way to say "order to show cause (or a reason) why probation should not be revoked and the original sentence imposed." Leaving out the legal jargon, the judge is basically telling you that you better come up with a good reason why the original jail or prison term should not be imposed.

How can I defend against a Utah order to show cause?

If you are served with an order to show cause for a probation violation, you will be required to come to court and defend against it. The most common ways to defend against an order to show cause are to either deny the allegations and demand an evidentiary hearing, or admit the allegations but offer the judge a good reason to give you another chance.

Option 1: Deny the allegation and fight it.

If you deny the probation violation allegations, you are entitled to have an evidentiary hearing. At this hearing, the prosecutor is required to put on enough evidence to convince the judge that you did in fact violate the terms of your probation.

The burden of proof in an order to show cause hearing is not as high as the burden in a jury trial. At trial, the prosecutor has to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt. In an order to show cause, the prosecutor only has to meet a "preponderance" standard (more likely than not).

If you fight the probation violation allegations and request an evidentiary hearing, you will have an opportunity to present evidence supporting your position. You are not required to present evidence. But since the burden of proof is much lower than it is at trial, you may be better off presenting evidence and witnesses to support your position.

There are a number of procedural rules that apply to an order to show cause evidentiary hearing. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you navigate the system will give you a much better chance of success.

If the prosecutor cannot put on evidence to meet the burden of proof or show that you violated probation, the order to show cause will be stricken. If the prosecutor meets the required burden of proof, the judge may impose the original jail or prison term.

Option 2: Admit the violation and ask for another chance.

Before deciding to fight the allegations, you should talk to an experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer. There are times when you will be better off admitting the allegations and presenting reasons why you deserve another chance. Your attorney can help you make the decision about which approach is best. If you decide you are going to admit the probation violation, you need to be prepared with a strong argument to convince the judge to give you another chance.

If the probation violations include failing to do something you were ordered to do, you need to start working on that thing immediately. For example, if you didn't do your community service . . . find somewhere to begin working on that community service immediately.

If the affidavit alleges that you did something you shouldn't have done, you will want to take steps to convince the judge that it isn't going to happen again. For example, if you tested dirty for drugs, you may want to get involved in drug treatment as soon as possible.

What are the odds of getting another chance?

Some judges use a three-strikes rule of thumb in determining whether you will get another chance at probation. But three is often the maximum, not the minimum number of chances a judge will give you. Some judges only give you one chance and then send you straight to jail. Most judges don't have a firm rule on how many chances you get. But the more chances you have had, the greater the risk that you are already on your last chance.

Whether you have admitted the allegations or had them proven against you in an evidentiary hearing, you will get a chance to try to convince the judge to give you one more chance. But keep in mind that a judge does not have to give you a second chance at probation. Even a first order to show cause can land you in jail or prison. Utah's legal system views probation as a privilege. If you have violated the terms of your probation, there is a real risk that the judge will take that privilege away from you.

Finding a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Utah

Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side becomes critical when you are trying to get another chance. Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense lawyer Stephen Howard offers legal services to clients throughout all of Utah. His track record includes not guilty verdicts or dismissals in some of the most serious charges on the books in Utah. Contact us now to schedule an initial consultation.


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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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