The criminal section handles class B and C misdemeanor criminal violations and infractions committed within the jurisdictional limits of Salt Lake City. Most criminal code violations require an appearance before a judge. A citation may have an appearance date and time listed. If not, defendants should contact the court between 5-14 days after the citation issue date. For court date information, after a citation has been received, please call (801)535-6300, Monday through Friday during our phone hours between 8:30 am and 4:00 pm.
After the defendant obtains their court date, the defendant’s first court appearance scheduled is called an Arraignment. At the Arraignment the Judge will advise the defendant of their rights including the right to counsel. The Administrative Office of the Courts has developed a short video called, “The Rights of Criminal Defendants”, that will help the defendant to better understand the process, please take a moment to view below.
Once the defendant knows and understands their rights and is ready to proceed, the Judge will read the charges to the defendant, who must enter a plea.
If the plea is “guilty,” the court will ensure that the defendant understands the rights the defendant will be waiving. The defendant has the right to be sentenced in no fewer than two nor any more than 45 days, unless waived. If the court is satisfied and the defendant understands the consequences, the court will accept the guilty plea. The court will schedule a date for sentencing or if the defendant chooses, he or she may waive that time and may be sentenced on the day of the plea.
If the plea is “not guilty,” a pre-trial conference is usually scheduled and other court hearings/trial dates will follow. A “not guilty” plea preserves all of the defendant’s options.
There are also two other types of pleas:
- No Contest: This has the same procedural effect as a guilty plea, but rather than admitting guilt, the defendant admits that the prosecutor would likely prevail at trial. A judge has discretion to reject this type of plea.
- Alford plea: This plea may be used when the defendant wants the advantage of a plea bargain, but cannot or will not admit guilt. Instead, the defendant pleads to avoid the potential consequences of going to trial, and pleads without admitting guilt. A judge has discretion to reject this type of plea.
The court may hold a pretrial conference in which the prosecutor and defense attorney attempt to negotiate settlement of the case. A judge may refuse to approve a proposed settlement. Cases not settled are scheduled for trial (bench trial) or scheduled for a jury trial (if the court receives a request for jury trial).
A Bench Trial is a hearing in which a judge makes all decisions. If a defendant is found Not Guilty, their case will be closed. If the defendant is found guilty, the defendant has the right to be sentenced in no fewer than two nor any more than 45 days following conviction. If the defendant chooses, he or she may waive that time and may be sentenced on the day of conviction.
Trial by Jury
A jury trial, or trial by jury, is a hearing in which a jury panel of 4 citizens within the community make a unanimous decision or finding of fact. If it is determined by a Jury panel that a defendant is Not Guilty, the case will be closed. If the Jury panel finds that the defendant is guilty, the defendant has the right to be sentenced in no fewer than two nor any more than 45 days following conviction. If the defendant chooses, he or she may waive that time and may be sentenced on the day of conviction.
Services and Links
- OSDC payments – Office of State Debt Collection (OSDC) has a new payment portal for defendant payments. If the court has transferred your case to OSDC, please pay on their website.
- Request to Judge (You must have Adobe or Adobe Reader to fill out the form. Works with Internet Explorer or Chrome with Adobe Reader plugin. If it does not work with Chrome, use Internet Explorer.)
- Audio Records Request Form (for court hearings)
- Utah Statewide Warrant Search
- Court Calendar
- Office of State Debt Collection
You may request that the Court allow you to perform community service in lieu of paying some, or all, of a fine for class B and C misdemeanors and infractions. Community service will be credited at a rate of $10/hour. Contact the court to make an appearance before the judge, if you would like to request community service in lieu of paying your fine. You may also fill out the “Request to Judge” form found above. (UCA 76-3-301.7)
If English is not your primary language and you are unable to understand or communicate in English, the court will appoint an interpreter for you for all court hearings. You must request a court interpreter at least 3 days before the hearing, or the hearing may have to be postponed. To request a court interpreter, you may call the court at 801-535-6300, you may also email the court at email@example.com, so that an interpreter may be scheduled to appear at your court hearing.
Utah State list of Legal Clinics
Utah State Bar list of Legal Clinics
Modest Means Lawyer Referral Program
Click here for a jurisdictional map.
ADA Notice: If you are a party to a case, a witness or prospective juror and you need special accommodations (including communication aids and services) during an upcoming proceeding, please call the Salt Lake City Justice Court at 801-535-6300, or fax the court at 801-535-6302 at least three business days before the proceeding.