Frequently Asked Questions
Some traffic violations have been designated as non-mandatory appearance matters. If you are cited for violating a traffic ordinance for which your appearance in court is not mandatory, you may contact the Court to find out the amount of the bail for your offense(s). If you do not dispute the citation, you may choose to simply pay the bail amount.
You may pay by check or money order through the mail. If you would like to pay by cash, MasterCard or Visa credit card or you want to set up a payment schedule, you must come to the court during regular business hours. If you do not post bail within fourteen days, a late fee will be assessed and a warrant for your arrest may be issued.
If you wish to dispute the citation or if you are cited for violating a traffic ordinance for which your appearance in court is mandatory, you must contact the Court in not less than five (5) days and not more than fourteen (14) days after the date of violation. When you contact the Court, you may set a date for your matter to be heard by the Court. You must appear before the Court on the date and at the time set. Failure to appear for your arraignment will result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.
How can I keep this ticket off my Driving Record?
Utah State law requires that all convictions be forwarded to the Department of Public Safety, Driver's License Division. The only way to keep a ticket off your record is not to be convicted on the ticket. If you are found not guilty after trial, you will not have a conviction. If you qualify for a plea-in-abeyance and successfully complete your plea-in-abeyance agreement, there will be no conviction entered on your driving record. A plea in abeyance is a guilty plea which is submitted to the Court in writing. If approved, it is not entered against you during the term of the plea in abeyance period. It is held by the Court and not reported to the Driver's License Division. If you are offered a plea in abeyance opportunity and accept it, you must sign a plea-in-abeyance agreement with the Prosecutor and have it approved by the Court.
You will be instructed on certain terms and conditions which must be met in order for your plea to be held. Unless you are notified to the contrary, you must fully comply with each of the terms and conditions of your plea?in?abeyance agreement. If you fully comply, then, at the end of the plea?in?abeyance period, your plea of guilty will be withdrawn and the case will be dismissed. The matter will not appear as a conviction on your driving record and no points will be assessed. If you are unable to resolve your matter with the Prosecutor, your matter will be heard by the Court
What are Traffic School & "Points"?
Traffic school is an educational program which seeks to reinforce good driving habits and increase driver awareness of traffic regulations. Traffic school is usually offered at night and on weekends. Some defendants believe that if they go to traffic school, their case will be automatically dismissed. This is not true. While traffic school may decrease the fine paid to the Court, except for plea-in-abeyances, cases are not dismissed.
If you and the prosecutor are unable to resolve your case at the pretrial conference, your case will be set for a jury or bench trial. The pretrial conference provides you a chance to show the prosecutor any evidence which might convince the prosecutor to reduce or dismiss your charge(s). For example, you may have proof of a driver's license or registration. You may have proof of insurance or a receipt showing repair of an equipment violation.
After reviewing your evidence/proof, the prosecutor may offer to reduce or dismiss your charge(s). Again, the prosecutor is not obligated to do so, nor are you obligated to accept their offer. If you are unable to resolve the matter, a trial will be scheduled.
You may request appointment of an attorney to represent you. An attorney will only be appointed to assist you if you cannot afford one and there is a substantial likelihood that you will be jailed if convicted. Attorneys are rarely appointed in traffic matters as jail cannot be imposed for the conviction of an infraction.If an attorney is not appointed, you must hire your own attorney or represent yourself. If an attorney is appointed, you may be required to repay some or all of the cost of the attorney. If you believe you will qualify for a court appointed attorney and would like to ask the Court to appoint one to you, you must ask the Clerk for an Affidavit of Indigency. Fill out the Affidavit of Indigency and have it ready when your case is called. If you plead guilty or no contest, you have the right to be sentenced in not less than two days and not more than 45 days. You may waive time for sentencing and be sentenced at arraignment. If you plead guilty or no contest, you will be giving up certain rights.
Be sure that you fully understand the rights - you will give up before you enter your plea.
If you plead not guilty, your case will be set for a trial. Either you or the prosecution may request that your matter be set for a pretrial conference in lieu of an immediate trial setting. Generally, a pre-trial conference is helpful if there is evidence available which can be used to resolve a charge without a trial, such as providing proof of insurance, driver's license or registration.
What is a Pretrial Conference?
If your matter is set for a Pretrial Conference, you will have the opportunity to discuss your case with the prosecutor. The prosecutor may offer to reduce the charge in exchange for your guilty or no contest plea ("plea bargain"). The prosecutor is not obligated to offer a plea bargain and you have no right to a plea bargain. You are not obligated to accept the offer made by the prosecutor. The Court will not reduce the charge against you on its own motion.If you and the prosecutor are unable to resolve your case at the pretrial conference, your case will be set for a jury or bench trial. The pretrial conference provides you a chance to show the prosecutor any evidence which might convince the prosecutor to reduce or dismiss your charge(s). For example, you may have proof of a driver's licence or registration. You may have proof of insurance or a receipt showing repair of an equipment violation. After reviewing your evidence/proof, the prosecutor may offer to reduce or dismiss your charge(s). Again, the prosecutor is not obligated to do so, nor are you obligated to accept their offer. If you are unable to resolve the matter, a trial will be scheduled.
What are the procedures and rules for trial?
In a bench trial, the Court will hear the evidence presented by both sides, then decide whether you are guilty or not guilty. In a jury trial, a panel of four jurors will hear the case, then they will decide if you are guilty or not guilty. You only have a right to a jury trial if you can be jailed if found guilty. Usually, traffic offenses are not eligible to be heard by juries. Non-lawyers who desire a jury trial are encouraged to 1) get an attorney or 2) study the applicable rules, laws and codes governing jury trials. You can jeopardize your rights or liberty if you do not follow the rules. Since the prosecution has the burden of proof to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, they have the first opportunity to speak to the court. This is called an opening statement. After the prosecution has made its opening statement, the defense has the option to make their opening statement or wait until the beginning of their side is required to make an opening statement. After the opening statements, the prosecution presents its "case-in-chief."
The prosecutor will offer evidence to prove that a crime was committed and that you committed the crime. After the prosecution is done, you will have the opportunity to present your side of the story. Either side may present testimony by witnesses or submit documents, subject to the Utah Rules of Evidence and the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure. After you finish presenting your side of the story, then both sides will have the opportunity to rebut the other side. This is done by presenting additional testimony or evidence. Again, the prosecutor goes first, then you will have a chance to speak. After each side is done, closing arguments are made.During closing arguments, each side will have the opportunity to tell the Court why they are right. The prosecution gets to speak first, then you will get to argue your case, followed by a final argument by the prosecution. The case is then submitted to the Court or jury for a determination as to guilt. If you are found not guilty, then you are free to go and the proceedings will end.
What are the possible Sentences and Punishments?
If you are found guilty, then you have the right to be sentenced in not less than two days nor more than forty?five days. In most cases, you may waive this right and receive your sentence immediately. The Court may order that you report for a pre?sentence evaluation. If the Court so orders, then you will be instructed to report to an agency which will prepare your report. It is important that you follow the instructions given to you as your failure to comply with the Court's order may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest. The following table shows the range of penalties which the Court may impose:
In addition to the base fine, the State of Utah requires that defendants convicted of certain crimes pay a surcharge of either 35% or 85% of the base fine depending on the crime. Also, the state law imposes an additional $10 surcharge for moving violations. The Court Clerk can explain the base fine, surcharge and moving violation surcharge associated with any fine imposed by the Court. The maximum fine for one offense is $1,950.
You may receive probation from the Court in lieu of a jail term. If the Court imposes probation, the Court will explain to you each of the terms and conditions of your probation. You must fully comply with each term of your probation. Failure to do so can result in revocation of your probation and your incarceration in jail.
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