Utah Criminal Defense


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A trial “De Novo” is a fancy legal word for a “do over.”  A trial Do Novo appeal from a Utah Justice Court is an appeal as of right taken within 28 days of sentencing and where you get to do the entire case over again in county district court, with a real judge.  See this in-depth article on Utah justice court appeals.   https://provocriminaldefense.com/2021/08/30/justice-court-appeals/

A hearing De Novo is a fancy legal word for doing the hearing all over again in the district court.  It is not a trial de novo, where you do the entire case over again.  A hearing de novo is limited to a redo of the hearing and it’s results.    Example.  Your plea in abeyance is revoked at a justice court hearing.  You can appeal to a hearing de novo in the district court and ask the district court to decide the matter.  See this article for more information on hearings de novo.  https://provocriminaldefense.com/2021/08/30/justice-court-appeals/

4 jurors and 1 possible alternate juror.  And 1 possible alternate. All jury compositions can be found here:    https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title78B/Chapter1/78B-1-P1.html?v=C78B-1-P1_1800010118000101

How many jurors will there be In my Utah Class A Misdemeanor case?

12 jurors  in a capital case.   8 jurors  in a noncapital first degree felony aggravated murder or other criminal case which carries a term of incarceration of more than one year as a possible sentence for the most serious offense charged.  See the statute here for the exact jury composition for all jury trials in Utah.  https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title78B/Chapter1/78B-1-S104.html?v=C78B-1-S104_1800010118000101

Immediately.  As soon as you suspect the police are investigating you, accusing you of a crime, you should seek the assistance of an attorney.    Once you hire an attorney that attorney can call the police and tell them not to talk to you.  It is called the 6th Amendment and right to counsel.   The police can’t talk to you when they know that you have an attorney.

Second, hiring an attorney earlier prevents serious errors from being made.  As a general rule, 99.9 percent of the time you don’t want to talk to police investigators, child protection workers or detectives.  It rarely works.

  1. How long have you been an attorney for?
  2. Are you a trial attorney, meaning you go to the courtroom to make your living?
  3. When was your last jury trial?
  4. How many jury trials have you done?
  5. How often do you go to court?
  6. Which courts do you go to the most?
  7. How long have you known the judge and prosecutor for?
  8. How big is your staff? Do you have a team of attorneys working for you and paralegals?  Or are you a solo practice, one lawyer team?

Yes.  All criminal convictions have the following collateral consequences.  Often you have to explain all criminal convictions, charges, arrests and citations on employment applications, housing applications, military in-processing, bank loans, etc.  Having a criminal record should be avoided and Utah Criminal Defense Attorney Jake Gunter helps you through this.

Many Utah criminal convictions carry mandatory driver license sanctions and are enhanceable offenses.  The degree of criminal conviction also matters for expungement and reduction purposes.

Most people think their criminal record only consists of criminal convictions.  This is partially true.   Your criminal records consists of the following items:

All criminal arrests and records located in with each arresting agency.

All criminal convictions in each court, state and the federal government.

All police records, whether that be only a police report or fingerprinting.

All internal prosecutor files.

All internal court files which are generally open to for public inspection.

All fingerprinting.

All newspaper articles about the arrest and trial.

Expunging your Utah criminal record is incredible important and useful.

Yes.  Depending on the case, Utah criminal defense attorneys (good ones) always conduct an initial investigation of the case.  Litigated cases that are going to be tried to a jury are extensively investigated when you hire a good criminal defense attorney.

Utah criminal defense attorneys always visit the alleged crime scene when needed.  They track down witnesses and talk to them.  They subpoena evidence from third parties to see what can be discovered.  They extensively use GRAMA, FOIA and other public records requests to find evidence that is helpful to their clients.   The goal of a Utah criminal defense lawyer Jake Gunter is to have everything the prosecuting attorney has in their file and more.  Private investigators can be hired to interview hostile witnesses, or stake out areas for observation.

Hiring a Utah criminal defense lawyer for Misdemeanor work is affordable, more affordable than you may think.

In small Utah Misdemeanor cases a typical flat fee is  $1,000 or more depending on the location and facts.  Contested Misdemeanors cases that must be tried to a jury will cost $5,000 or more.  Motion practice to suppress illegally gathered evidence can cost anywhere from $2,000 plus.  

Trust.  Number 1—Trust.  If  you don’t trust your Utah criminal defense attorney, it is time to get a new one.  You must trust your attorney and what he is doing for you.   You may feel your attorney is too cozy with the judge or prosecutor, but often that is a really good thing that your chosen attorney is well liked in the criminal justice community.  It will help you get what you need in your case.  Relationships matter.

Private practice criminal defense attorneys in Utah are not public defenders.  Public defenders are appointed by the court to represent people who can’t afford a criminal defense attorney.  Private practice criminal defense attorneys represent clients who pay fees for their services.  A good sign of a successfully criminal defense attorney is that they are so popular that they only take private paying clients.

Another positive sign of a good Utah criminal defense attorney is that you can’t reach them at 9 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. because that is when the local courts are in session.  Good Utah criminal defense lawyers are constantly in court.

The overwhelming amount of Utah criminal cases resolve with some type of plea bargain.  Few cases are tried to a jury.  Even though it is highly likely your case will be plead out somehow, it is critical that you hire an attorney who can go all the way to a jury trial and win.  Because you will get a better plea bargain because the prosecutor knows that your attorney will go to trial if needed.

Most people accused of crimes do not testify on their own behalf.   The old school rules is that you don’t put your client on the stand unless you have to.  The new school, minority rule is that you do put your client on the stand.   

Outside of identifying yourself with applicable ID, you never have to talk to the police.  You have the right to remain silent.  And you should use it generously.

Yes.  It is a Utah Class A Misdemeanor to alter, obliterate or remove an identification number on a firearm that was issued by the government or the manufacturer.   Under federal law it  is a felony to possess a firearm with an altered identification number.  See Utah Code Ann. 76-10-522 (2020).  See federal law at 26 USC 5861 (2020.

No.  If you are on Utah felony probation, you can not possess a firearm.  See Utah Code Ann 76-10-503(1)(b)(1) (2020).

No.  If you were dishonorable discharged from the US military you can not possess a firearm in Utah.   See Utah Code Ann 76-10-503(1)(b)(viii) (2020).

No.  If a valid domestic violence protective order of any sorts has been issued against you, you cannot possess a firearm in Utah.   See Utah Code Ann 76-10-503(1)(b)(x) (2020).

A first time sexual battery offense standing alone is not a registrable sex offense.   If you have 4 or more sexual battery convictions it is a registrable sex offense. If you have a combination of sexual battery and lewdness with four or more convictions, it is a registrable sex offense.

A first time lewdness offense standing alone is not a registrable sex offense.   If you have 4 or more lewdness convictions it is a registrable sex offense. If you have a combination of sexual battery and lewdness with four or more convictions, it is a registrable sex offense.

No.  Utah Code Ann. 76-10-523 (2020) states it is a Class B Misdemeanor to carry a “dangerous weapon” while drunk or impaired on drugs.  If you have a blood alcohol level of .05 or more, or have illegal drugs in yours system, you can’t carry a dangerous weapon.

Yes.  It’s called a Terry Stop, after Terry v. Ohio 392 U.S. 1 (1968).  A Terry stop is where the police temporarily stop you in order to investigate a crime.  The police must have reasonable suspicion, based on articulatable, objective facts that criminal activity may be afoot.

The police don’t have to tell you that this is not a consensual encounter.  They can only hold you long enough to dispel the reason why they stopped your.

Obtaining bail in your criminal case is dependent on several statutory factors, outlined in Utah Code Ann. 77-20-1 et seq (2020).  Some factor the judge considers when granting bail are:

  1.  Do you own a home?
  2.  Do you have a job?
  3.  Are you homeless?
  4.  What is your criminal record.
  5.  What is your track record for showing up for court in the past?
  6.  How serious the pending charges are?
  7.  Do you have family in the community?
  8.  Married?  Children?
  9. Community ties.
  10. How much bail you are willing to pay?
  11. Will you surrender your passport?

These are just a few factors and not exhaustive in what the Utah bail setting judge can consider.


The following criminal convictions are never eligible for expungement in Utah as of 07/2020.

No.  Felony DUIs are not expungeable.  The trick is to run 402 sentence reduction motions and make them Misdemeanor DUIs which are expungeable after a 10 year waiting period.

  1. Look at the attorney’s Google reviews.
  2.  Ask the lawyer if they really and regularly practices criminal defense.  Don’t hire a general practice attorney.  They are never really good at anything because they are so varied in their legal practice.
  3.  Look at their Linkedin.com profile.
  4.  Are they solo in their  basement without staff?  Or do they have a large building, plenty of staff and help?  These are indicators of a successful Utah criminal defense attorney.
  5. Is it hard to reach them at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.?  Good criminal defense attorneys are constantly in court or on the phone.  Another reliable indicator that you found a reputable Utah criminal defense attorney.

YES.  If you have an outstanding speeding ticket, warrant or failure to appear in court that will suspend your Utah hunting and fishing licenses.   See Utah Code Ann. 23-19-9.5 (2020).

YES.  If you owe more than $2,500 in back child support your Utah hunting and fishing license may be suspended.  See Utah Code Ann. 23-19-5.5 (2020).

Here are the general rules for how long your Utah fishing and hunting licenses will be suspended for regarding particular wildlife convictions.  See Utah Code Ann. 23-19-9 (2020) for more information.


(i)           a felony conviction;

(ii)          a plea of guilty or no contest to an offense punishable as a felony, which plea is held in abeyance pursuant to a plea in abeyance agreement; or

(iii)         being charged with an offense punishable as a felony, the prosecution of which is suspended pursuant to a diversion agreement;


(i)           a class A misdemeanor conviction;

(ii)          a plea of guilty or no contest to an offense punishable as a class A misdemeanor, which plea is held in abeyance pursuant to a plea in abeyance agreement; or

(iii)         being charged with an offense punishable as a class A misdemeanor, the prosecution of which is suspended pursuant to a diversion agreement;


(i)           a class B misdemeanor conviction;

(ii)          a plea of guilty or no contest to an offense punishable as a class B misdemeanor when the plea is held in abeyance according to a plea in abeyance agreement; or

(iii)         being charged with an offense punishable as a class B misdemeanor, the prosecution of which is suspended pursuant to a diversion agreement; and


(i)           a class C misdemeanor conviction;

(ii)          a plea of guilty or no contest to an offense punishable as a class C misdemeanor, when the plea is held in abeyance according to a plea in abeyance agreement; or

(iii)         being charged with an offense punishable as a class C misdemeanor, the prosecution of which is suspended according to a diversion agreement.


The hearing officer may double a suspension period if you are convicted again while serving a suspension period or you are involved in illegally taking a “Trophy Animals.”

The classic marijuana possession conviction in Provo Orem is a bail schedule $683.  Normally fines can be paid over the term of your probationary period.

Interference with the Police is a Class B Misdemeanor.  Punishable by 6 months in jail and a $683 fine.    See this deeper article on Interference with the Police.

A criminal diversion agreement is where the prosecutor will dismiss the charges if you successfully complete probation.  See this article on Diversion for more information.  

Furnishing alcohol to a minor is found at Utah Code Ann. 32B-4-403 (2020).

If you intentionally do it, it’s a Class A Misdemeanor.  If you accidentally do it, then it’s a Class B Misdemeanor.

Jake has been a lawyer for 17 years.   He only represents people.  Not businesses.  Jake is a trial lawyer who makes his living in the courtroom.  Not drafting wills.

Yes.  Google the Utah Fine Bail Schedule.  The bail schedule has all the fines.  See Here the most current Fine Bail Schedule Utah 2018.

The classic drug pipe or needle paraphernalia possession conviction in Provo Orem is a bail schedule $683.  Normally fines can be paid over the term of your probationary period.  It is a Class B Misdemeanor.   Paraphernalia possession is charged in Justice Courts.

Any charged listed in Utah Code Ann. 77-36-1 (2018).  There are many.

There are 10 year and lifetime registration periods for the Utah Child Abuse Registry.

  The Utah Child Abuse Registry can be found at Utah Code Ann. 77-43-101 (2018).

See this deeper article on Utah’s Child Abuse Registry. 

Certain Utah child abuse convictions will require you to registry for 10 years or life on the Utah Child Abuse Registry.  The Utah Child Abuse Registry can be found at Utah Code Ann. 77-43-101 (2018).

See this deeper article on Utah’s Child Abuse Registry. 

  1.  Actual first chair jury trial experience defending people.
  2. Time as a lawyer.  Effective Utah criminal defense attorneys have build years and years of relationships with Judges and Prosecutors.

Assuming you paid all your fines and restitution and that you successfully completed your case, the following mandatory wait times apply before you can start expunging your Utah criminal record.

Misdemeanor conviction of Subsection 41-6a-501(2)
Felony conviction of Subsection 58-37-8(2)(g)

10 years


7 years

Class A Misdemeanor or felony drug possession

5 years

Class B Misdemeanor

4 years

Class C Misdemeanor or Infraction

3 years

See this deeper article on Utah expungements, Rule 402 reductions and Probation.  

Any charged listed in Utah Code Ann. 77-36-1 (2018).  There are many.

A conviction for a 2nd DUI will suspend your license for 2 years.

EXAMPLE:  Your are arrested for a 2nd DUI in the Provo Justice  Court.  This is the 2nd DUI arrest within 5 years of your first DUI conviction that happened in the Orem Justice Court.

Your 2nd DUI arrest and conviction set in motion a 2 year suspension.


Alcohol restricted driver is where you CAN NOT drive with any alcohol in your system.

You become alcohol restricted for the following reasons:

1.  An under 21 driver is an alcohol restricted driver.

2. 2 years for your 1st DUI conviction, alcohol related reckless driving, or impaired driving.

3. 2 years for DUI PerSe conviction.  Per Se is where you breath alcohol is greater than .08.

4.  3 years for an alcohol restricted driver  conviction.

5. 3 years for an ignition interlock conviction.

6.  5 years for a first  breathalyzer refusal or blood draw.

7.  10 years for a 2nd  DUI conviction  or a  a second arrest for a 2nd breathalyzer refusal in 10 years of your first refusal.

8.  For LIFE for a felony DUI or automobile homicide.

Driver 21 or older and has a second or subsequent arrests, the following suspension periods will be:

Per-Se arrest.  2 years

Refuse to submit to a chemical test.  36 months

How long is my license suspended for a Utah DUI?

If you are over 21 years old.

Per-Se arrest – 120 days.

Refuse to submit to a chemical test – 18 months.

Chemical testing is where the police officer wants you to blow on the breathalyzer or take a blood draw.

If it is your first offense, your Utah driver’s license will be suspended for 120 days.  See Utah Code Ann 53-3-220 (2018) for more details. 

When your criminal convictions are expunged, it is if the criminal episode did not happen.  Only the courts, and other governmental agencies can see the prior conviction.  See Utah Code Ann. 77-40-1 (2018).  for more information. See this article also. 

A rule 402 reduction motion is where your Provo Orem criminal defense attorney asks the court to reduce the severity of your criminal convictions by one or two grades.  See this deeper article on Rule 402 Reductions and Utah Expungements.

Yes.  If you are convicted of qualifying domestic violence offense you ability to use, possess firearms is restricted under federal law.  Again, the devil is in the details and a good Provo Orem criminal defense attorney can help alleviate this problem.

There are a select, few ways you can get off the Utah sex offense registry.   The process is outlined in Utah Code Ann 77-40-112 (2018) and deserves a close read.   1.  Only certain listed offense qualify.  2.  You can’t have reoffended.  3.  You must successfully complete all probationary terms.  4.  The judge has to OK it.

Any charged listed in Utah Code Ann. 77-40-1 (2018).  There are many.  A close review is always in order when you are charged with a sex crime.

  1. How many jury trials does the lawyer have under his belt as the lead attorney?
  2. How long as the Provo Orem criminal defense attorney been practicing law?  Young attorneys generally don’t have the experience yet.
  3. Do you trust the attorney and have a relationship?

The basics of a Plea in Abeyance is that if you don’t get in trouble during the probationary term, the case will get dismissed.   No conviction ever enters on your criminal record.  People looking up your criminal record can still see that you were charged, but it will show up as “dismissed.”  The statute can be found here:  Utah Code Ann. 77-2a-1 (2018)  See the more deep article on Pleas in Abeyances coming soon.

A Utah Reckless Driving conviction will not suspend your driver’s license, but it will place 80 points on your driving record.  You only get 200 points before administrative action of your license could occur.

Yes.  As a general rule your Utah traffic ticket conviction will increase your insurance rates when renewal times comes round, or the insurance carrier may drop you outright if your records is terrible.

Hiring a Utah traffic ticket attorney can help alleviate the severity of the ticket, the points or beat the the ticket outright.

Drugged driving, or Metabolite driving convictions are where you drive with any illegal drugs in your system.

The statute is found here.  Utah Code Ann. 41-6a-517 (2018).

It does not matter if you were high while driving, or completely sober and only smoked pot the night before.  If you have any illegal substances in your body and are caught driving, you can be charged with drugged driving.

Yes.  If over 21 years old, drugged driving convictions in Utah will suspend your license for 120 days.

The Utah penalty for using a prostitution service is a Class A Misdemeanor for the first offense.  A third violation of hiring a prostitute is a Third Degree Felony.  Any fine imposed under the criminal code section for hiring a prostitute requires the court to impose the maximum fine.  Requiring the max fine is an unusual provision.

NO. Impaired Driving will not suspend your Utah drivers license.  Make sure you request your 10 day administrative hearing in a timely fashion.

An evidentiary hearing is a court hearing conducted by the parties and a judge, commissioner or other judicial officer where the Utah Rules of Evidence apply.

In contrast, a proffer hearing is where the parties state that the witnesses would say if those witnesses where to actually take the witness stand and testify.

Evidentiary hearing have all the formalities of a regular trial, except there is not jury and the judge is the finder /adjudicator of fact and the law.

Prelim Exams in Felony or Class A Misdemeanors are examples of evidentiary hearings.  Same goes for evidentiary hearings regarding suppression hearings.

The Utah Bail Schedule is a listing of all Utah criminal charges, with associated recommended fines.  Just Google Utah Bail Fine Schedule

Yes.  You can hire your own civilian attorney to conduct your Court-Martial Defense.  You can also keep you court appointed Judge Advocates.

Often civilian counsel will simply have more courtroom experience than your court appointed Judge Advocate.

See this article on why to hire an experienced civilian criminal defense attorney to defend your Court-Martial. Court-Martial Defense. Utah Military Lawyer

A part of Utah’s vandalism laws can be found in the Utah Criminal Mischief Code section of Utah Code Ann 76-6-106 (2018).

Yes.  As a general rule you must appear in court or ask your attorney to waive your appearance and allow your attorney to appear on your behalf.   Generally Class A Misdemeanors and below the court will often waive your appearance.   Your Utah criminal defense attorney files a motion to excuse your presence and to appear through counsel.  If you are charged with a Felony, it is far more difficult to  excuse your absence.

Some traffic tickets do not require a mandatory court appearance and you can just pay online.

See this article HERE about being charged in Utah while visiting.

ANSWER:  NO.  If you are convicted of a Utah Felony, you cannot own, possess or transfer a firearm.

ANSWER:  If you are served with a lawful subpoena, you must testify or risk being held in contempt of court.  There are exceptions under the Utah Constitution regarding the marital privilege.  If you do not want to testify against your legal spouse in court, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.

Technically, YES.  But if you are first time offender and you complete a substance abuse program or take the Juvenile Court’s alcohol awareness course, the Juvenile Judge can stay the suspension period.   If you do not does these courses, the court will suspend your license for 1 years.

The general rule is you must show up in court when charged.  Sometimes your Utah criminal defense attorney can get the judge to waive your appearance in court and let your attorney represent you.  But his generally only applies to Misdemeanors and not the trial itself.  It is common practice for Class B Misdemeanors and below for the judge to excuse your absence.

Not if you are 21 years or older.   YES if you are 18-21 years old, but the Court may reduce your license suspension time if you complete alcohol awareness classes.

Utah Juvenile nonjudicial adjustment is where Utah Juveniles are accused of certain crimes and these allegations are dealt with information in the Juvenile court with a Juvenile probation officer.

The statute and terms can be found here:  Utah Code Ann. 78A-6-602 (2019).

Yes.  But you have to wait until you are 18 years old and not have pending criminal charges against.

There are two types of juvenile expungements.

You can expunge non-judicial adjustments where you never went to court.

You can expunge delinquency adjudications (juvenile crimes) where you formally went to court.

You can never expunge the following juvenile delinquency adjudications (convictions):

  • the record contains an adjudication for murder or aggravated murder; or
  • in the five years preceding the day on which the petition is filed the petitioner has been convicted of violent felony as defined in Utah Code § 76-3-203.5;
  • there are delinquency or criminal proceedings pending against the petitioner, or
  • restitution has not been paid.

YES.  You can decline or turn down an offer of NonJudicial Adjustment in Utah.  The case will then be screened by a Utah Juvenile prosecuting attorney.

The statute and terms can be found here:  Utah Code Ann. 78A-6-602 (2019).

Is the lawyer you are about to call have 20 plus jury trials? Experience matters in criminal defense. Contact Jake today!

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