Month: October 2015

Misdemeanors VS Felonies

Misdemeanors VS Felonies

There are two different classifications for crimes in most of the US. The two most common categories in most states are considered to be felonies or misdemeanors. There may be alternative categories that are called violations or infractions. It is very important to understand the qualifying circumstances to better understand the punishment, options for plea agreements and any jail or prison time.

What is a Misdemeanor?

To most Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorney misdemeanors are widely considered some of the less serious of crimes. These crimes usually include things like traffic infractions or offenses, small dollar theft (under $1000) or DUI cases. Minor drug offenses sometimes fall into this category as well. In Utah there are different degrees or classes to each misdemeanor. You Have Class A B & C.

Class A Misdemeanors

  • This would be the most severe or a misdemeanor. Typical Class A Misdemeanor crimes in Utah would be if you had over one ounce but less that one pound of marijuana, a crime of assaulting a police officer or criminal mischief. It would also be a crime if you stole anything between $500 and $1500. Class A also includes if you injury someone during a DUI incident, provide false or misleading information to a police offices or if you violate any civil stalking injunctions or protective orders.
  • Class A Misdemeanors will most likely have jail time up to one year to be served in the county jail NOT PRISON time and a substantial fine.

Class B Misdemeanors

  • These Criminal Charges can include possessing less than one ounce of marijuana, driving recklessly, multiple other traffic offenses, DUI charges, and theft that is less than $500 worth of property. This can also include carrying a concealed weapon.
  • The penalties for Class B Misdemeanors can be up to 6 months in jail and close to $2000 in fines. Sometimes during sentencing you will have to attend classes and may be put on probation.

Class C Misdemeanors

  • These Criminal Charges can include things like disorderly conduct and traffic offenses.
  • The Jail time will usually fall around 90 days and may include a fine of up to $1000.

A good Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorney can help today.

Misdemeanor proceeding do involve trials just like other charges. Normal rights within the case are given such as the right to an attorney and if you are not able to afford one you can have one appointed for you. You can also choose to be on your own and represent yourself. This is not highly recommended and most often the court will try to help you appoint an attorney. There is a chance that you may have a jury trial. It varies among the charges and most of the time the jury may be smaller in size or you may have a bench trial.

Misdemeanors VS Felonies

Felonies- Now that you know what a Misdemeanor is let us talk about Felonies.

Felonies are more serious crimes than a misdemeanor. They are also separated into 1st , 2nd and 3rddegrees.  Some examples of felony crimes would be grand theft, any murder charges, rape and most sexual abuse cases and sometimes different kinds of fraud.  Felonies carry harsher fines and usually prison sentences that exceed one year and possibly even include death.
Once a crime has been adjudicated and if the criminal has been convicted or plea’s guilty they will probably go to the federal or state prison or correctional facility. Sometimes the prison officials will move the inmates around within the prison system and the prisoner may be sent to a prison farther from where they were originally sentenced. Your Ogden Criminal Defense Attorney or your American Fork Criminal Defense Attorney can help.
All defendants who face felony criminal charges are eligible for a trial by jury. The court is still obligated to provide the defendant with an attorney if they cannot afford one. Sometimes the Juries are smaller but for the most part they have around 12 and they may have a few extra for alternate jurors. In some cases the jurors may be excused or changed out during a case for multiple reasons.

The conviction or plea of guilty to a felony may inhibit your ability to carry or possess firearms and sometimes it will not allow you to work in certain professions.
Other Considerations

Sometimes the crime may require a register. Certain sexual crimes require that offenders register with the state. Financial Crime registries may stop you from licensing in different areas or working in certain fields. In some cases defendants are sentenced to mental health facilities and group homes.
If you are charged with a crime it is a serious matter and can affect the rest of your life. Please call one of our Ogden Criminal Defense Lawyer or our American Fork Criminal Defense Lawyer today for your FREE consultation.

Misdemeanors VS Felonies

How Do I Communicate With My Attorney

The first step in hiring a lawyer is explaining why you need a lawyer or an American Fork Criminal Defense Attorney or an Ogden Criminal Defense Attorney. The importance of communicating effectively and clearly is a priority.

Let us start with why communication is the most important part.

The Attorney client relationship will work better when both of you are able to talk about the facts of the case, your opinions and your motives honestly. This will form a better working relationship between the two of you. You have to trust that your lawyer understands you and is willing to tell your side of the story.

When you are sharing information it should smoothly flow both way with you and the lawyer. It is a two way street so your lawyer should fulfill your need for all of the information just as you should give your American Fork Criminal Defense Lawyer all the information they are asking for. If the Ogden Criminal Defense Lawyer needs to have information the best thing to do is to provide them with ALL of the evidence they are asking for. If your attorney doesn’t have all of the correct information and you provide incomplete facts it will affect their ability to give you good advice about your case. Incorrect facts and incomplete statement may be more damaging then to no evidence at all.

When you meet  with your lawyer make sure you understand the advice fully that they are giving you. If you are having trouble understanding or you can’t commit to the advice talk to your Ogden Divorce Attorney about. After all that is why you hired an American Fork Divorce Attorney. It is important to understand the terminology and the consequences of a decision like a settlement proposal or a plea agreement. Always ask why. A good American Fork Criminal Defense Lawyer will provide for time to really talk about your concerns until you understand fully. Remember this is your life, family and career. Ask your Ogden Criminal Defense Lawyer as many questions as you need to.

Personal History

Your criminal defense attorney Ogden or Divorce attorney american fork  might also ask you to provide a small summary which can include any marriages you have had previously and might want an accounting of your finances. When the children are discussed as part of the case more likely than not you will need to have those financial statements prepared and ready for your Ogden Divorce Attorney.  It is wise to also keep a journal of events when dealing in a civil matter including a divorce case. You will want to talk about your feelings and how you feel about your daily life. Hold nothing back.

Stay Updated and Update Your Counsel

During a stressful criminal case or even a divorce matter Your American Fork Criminal Defense lawyer or your Ogden Criminal Defense Attorney may be contacting you. Most cases will go through periods of little to no communication at different points through the case. , Make sure you let yourAmerican Fork Divorce lawyer know if anything substantial changes will want to let you know. Keep in touch with your Ogden Divorce Lawyer and let them know if your address changes or you are leaving for an extended time.

It is important to remember that your attorney will have more than once clent and that they do spend considerable time in court. Its unreasonable to expect that they will alway be there when you call and available to discuss your case. Sometimes an email is a better form of communication and it can be addressed when the attorney has time to dedicate to your case. The staff should respond and let you know that they recieved the call or email and will get back to you shortly. Always remember that a courteous client makes for a happy lawyer.

The opposite is true as well. Make sure you are returning the documents and communications in a timely manner.

Talking Finances

The attorney will ask you for all of you financial information especially in a divorce, bankruptcy or even a criminal case. Most times they will request that you to fill out information. When providing financial information remember to include all of the money coming and and going out of your home. This includes all income sources, anything you own (assets), bank statements, bills, etc.  Sometimes an attorney will want to review other documents that may take time to gather. Examples: tax returns, pay history stubs and employment history, bank ledgers for your savings and investments, employee benefit statements (cafeteria plans, Christmas savings plans), and other documents regarding the debts you currently owe. It is important to be timely and get this information for review to your lawyer so that they can properly prepare for the case.


Sentencing in Utah

Now that you have plead out on a case or been convicted the questions start piling up about sentencing. In the State of Utah there are ranges for each crime. Before you get ahead of yourself, stop for a moment and understand the next few weeks, months or years may appear to be predetermined according to the sentencing guidelines. However, there is a range with a maximum and a minimum sentencing and it varies from case to case.

In criminal cases the judge has a very important role. The court hearings have a procedural code that must be followed. It is the most important part of the case for the judge to make sure that the procedures, evidence, instructions and general conduct within the case is appropriate. The judge is also responsible to hand down the sentence.

What do they use to determine the sentencing? The judge will make the decision on how much time within the range will be served. There are certain criteria that will help the judge weigh and measure when determining the sentence.

The first part of understanding the sentencing is to understand how the crimes are cataloged. Utah has lettered misdemeanors and felonies are categorized with degrees. The lower the number in felonies the more serious the crime. The same is true with misdemeanors.

The table below will explain the ranges for each class of crime. There is a difference between prison time and jail time. Generally if the crime category will have a sentence under a year, the time will be served in the county jail.

  • Class C Misdemeanor – Disorderly Conduct, Traffic Offenses
    • Maximum Sentence — 90 days in Jail
  • Class B Misdemeanor- DUI, Simple Assault
    • Maximum Sentence — 6 months in Jail
  • Class A Misdemeanor – DUI (with injury)
    • Maximum Sentence — 1 year in Jail
  • Third Degree Felony- Fraud and Forgery
    • Sentence Range — 0 years – 5 years Prison
  • Second Degree Felony- Burglary, Kidnapping, Third DUI (in 10 years)
    • Sentence Range — 1 year – 15 years Prison
  • First Degree Felony- Rape, Murder, Child Kidnapping
    • Sentence Range — 5 years – life Prision

This is just a short list with examples. However, it does not include violations. You can be fined with violations but you will not be serving time in jail. There is only one capital felony. That is aggravated murder.  This crime is the only one to carry the death penalty. Some crimes can be categorized in different classes. For instance a simple assault in Utah could be a Misdemeanor B or A.

Some of the aggravation and mitigating factors will impact the sentencing. The ranges are very broad. Therefore, the judge must use the factors to determine where in the sentencing guideline the crime will fall. To understand how sentencing works you first have to understand what the terms mean. The word aggravating means to enhance the penalties. The word mitigating means to reduce them. Some Aggravating factors could be: bodily injury, hate crimes, history of crimes, cruel acts. Mitigating factors could be: someone who has a disability, first time offenders, full cooperation. By understanding what factors are used it can help you figure out where you will likely fall in the guidelines. Your American Fork Criminal Defense Lawyer or Ogden Criminal Defense Lawyer will help you get a good range to know where your crime may fit.

There is a special commission that is comprised of defense attorneys, legislators, victims, corrections, doctors, prosecutors and many others. It is called a sentencing commission.  The judge in the case will most likely refer to the Sentencing Commission Guidelines, they are not required to follow them. Judges are encouraged to sentence by using both the guidelines and the factors that we previously discussed.

In some cases the offender has two options in sentencing. They can choose to be sentenced the same day of the plea or conviction or wait 2 – 45 days after they have plead or been convicted.

In more serious cases the sentencing hearing can be more in-depth and the American Fork Criminal Defense Attorney or Ogden Criminal Defense Attorney will provide mitigating factors in defense of the offender. The prosecutor will offer aggravating factors in the form of evidence. It is a rare occurrence to have the death penalty used in the State of Utah.

Sentencing is an emotional experience for most people. If you or someone that you love is in need of some free advice or a consultation. Call us today.