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Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer - Sentencing Attorney

Sentencing courts in Utah can impose punishments ranging from probation to prison. The maximum potential sentence is determined by the state legislature, based typically on the designated offense level for the offense charged. But for most offenses, the court has discretion to determine whether probation should be granted or if the defendant should be ordered to serve a jail or prison term. As an experienced Utah criminal lawyer, Stephen Howard has obtained probation for clients who originally faced serious charges including aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, child abuse homicide, and many more.* Based in Salt Lake City, Mr. Howard is prepared to represent clients in sentencing hearings throughout Utah. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.


There are a few offenses for which the legislature has determined a mandatory prison or jail sentence.  

Utah Sentencing - Getting It Right the First Time

If you are dissatisfied with the sentencing decision imposed in your case, you have the right to appeal the sentence. However, Utah's appellate courts very rarely overturn a sentence imposed by the district court. Because it is so difficutl to get a sentencing order reversed on appeal, it is critical to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side to help ensure the best possible results.

In reviewing a district court's sentence, Utah appellate courts consistently apply an "abuse of discretion" standard in reviewing the sentencing decisions of a trial court. Typically, a Utah appellate court will only find an abuse of discretion if the sentencing court fails to consider all legally relevant factors and information presented at sentencing. A sentencing court may also be found to have abused its discretion if a sentence imposed is "clearly excessive." But so long as the sentence is within the statutory range provided by the legislature, it is unlikely that an appellate court would find such a sentence to be "clearly excessive."

The "abuse of discretion" standard of review on appeal makes appealing a sentence in Utah an uphill battle. But making the appeal process even more difficult is the fact that the defendant bears the burden of demonstrating on appeal that the sentencing court failed to properly consider all of the relevant factors. A defendant may alternatively show that "no reasonable person" would have taken the view adopted by the sentencing court. But these standards are difficult to meet, and a reversal on appeal of a sentencing court's decision is very rare.

Sentences imposed by justice courts in Utah provide an exception the the appeal rules described above. Because Utah's justice courts are not considered to be courts of record, the appeal process from a justice court involves a "de novo" hearing in the district court. This "de novo" appeal may involve an entirely new hearing or, in some cases, an entirely new trial. and new sentencing hearing.

If you are facing a sentencing hearing in one of Utah's state district courts, you should treat your sentencing hearing as your only chance to make your case. The appeal standards you will face in appealing a district court's sentence are strict, and reversal on appeal of a district court's sentencing decision are rare. It is important, therefore, to have an experienced criminal attorney on your side at a sentencing hearing.

Contact a Salt Lake Criminal Lawyer

Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense lawyer Stephen Howard represents clients throughout Utah.  He has successfully represented clients at sentencing, obtaining probationary sentences for clients originally facing misdemeanor and felony charges including aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, kidnapping, fraud, negligent homicide, first-degree felony drug charges, and many more.*

Contact us today for an initial consultation with criminal defense lawyer Stephen Howard.

*These results are presented by way of example only, and are not intended to suggest any guarantee of any particular result in your case. Each case is unique, and a court's decision regarding sentencing can be affected by many different factors. You should consult with a Utah criminal defense attorney before making any decision on how to proceed with your criminal defense case.


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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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