What is a Misdemeanor in Utah
Every crime is either an infraction, a misdemeanor, or a felony. A misdemeanor is any crime for which there is the possibility of jail time, but for which the maximum is one year in jail or less. Any crime for which you can be sentenced to over a year of incarceration is a felony. Any crime for which you can’t be sent to jail at all is an infraction.
There are three different levels of misdemeanors in Utah. Misdemeanor A, B and C. Misdemeanor A is the most serious and Misdemeanor C is the least serious.
The Penalties for a Misdemeanor in Utah
The maximum penalties are defined by statute. Here they are:
Misdemeanor A: up to 1 year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Misdemeanor B: up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Misdemeanor C: up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine.
These statutory maximums are a little misleading. For one thing, the “maximum” penalties are much different than the “average” penalties. If you’ve been convicted of a Misdemeanor B, for instance, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be sentenced to 6 months in jail or anything close to it, particularly is it’s your first criminal offense. It’s more likely that you won’t go to jail at all, or that you’ll only go for a few days. However, it is more likely that you’ll pay close to the statutory maximum in fines, and it is entirely possible that you’ll pay MORE than the maximum. That’s because most offenses carry a “surcharge” of up to 90% of the maximum. So, for many misdemeanor B offenses, the actual fine may be up to $1,900.
The Collateral Consequences of a Misdemeanor Conviction in Utah
Collateral consequences are important. Sometimes the collateral consequences of a misdemeanor conviction are more serious than the criminal penalties handed-down by the judge, and they don’t even tell you about them in court! For many misdemeanors in Utah, a conviction means that you lose your driver’s license for a period of time (for instance: DUI, Minor in Possession, or any drug or paraphernalia offense). Also, the criminal sentence may include terms such as an interlock device, alcohol and drug treatment, or other various classes. Many of these classes and requirements cost money, which may be much more than your fine amount. Also, a conviction for a traffic-related misdemeanor could well cause your insurance rates to go up for several years.
Another major collateral consequence of a Misdemeanor conviction is your criminal record. Background checks are increasingly common for employment, school, and even housing applications. That conviction that didn’t seem like a big deal at the time may not seem that way years later, when you can’t get your dream job because of it.
Because of the collateral consequences associated with criminal convictions, it’s often well worth your time and effort to make sure you get the best result possible.
What to Do If You’ve Been Charged with a Misdemeanor in Utah
I’m a Utah misdemeanor defense attorney, so it’s not surprising that I think everyone charged with a misdemeanor should talk to an attorney. But it’s not just my self-interest. Because of the collateral consequences explained above, fighting your charge or knowing the implications of your plea-deal is very important for even a “minor” crime. An attorney can help. And for a misdemeanor charge, we may be much more affordable than you think. I offer a free confidential consultation to anyone charged with a crime in Utah, so it can’t hurt to contact me and get some information.
The Cost of a Misdemeanor Defense Attorney in Utah
Of course, every case is a little different, and every attorney is a little different, so it’s impossible to say exactly what a defense attorney will cost in your case. I can tell you that for some misdemeanor cases in Salt Lake City or nearby, my fees start at under $1000. On the other end of the spectrum, some Misdemeanor cases are very complicated and average fees may be several thousand dollars. Whatever sort of charge you’re facing, I’ll discuss it with you during a free initial consultation and tell you exactly how much I would charge. If you decide not to hire me, no harm done. You can contact me here.