Criminal Defense Attorney–Jake Gunter

Utah criminal defense attorney Jake Gunter pleas in abeyances first time offenders programs UTAH CRIMINAL PLEAS IN ABEYANCE

Have you been charged with a Utah crime? Is this your first offense? You may be eligible for a first time offender Utah Plea in Abeyance.

Here is what a Utah Plea in Abeyance is for your Utah criminal charges:

Generally. In general, a Plea in Abeyance is where you admit guilt and the judge holds your guilty plea and gives you a probationary period to see if you will screw up again. If you successfully complete the terms of your Plea in Abeyance, your criminal case will be dismissed and you will not have a criminal conviction for that charge.

A Plea in Abeyance is usually in writing and signed by the judge, prosecutor, defense counsel and yourself. It sets forth the terms of your probation, any fine, any drug and alcohol treatment or restitution. In Utah Justice Courts, usually Pleas in Abeyance do not require supervised probation, just court probation for -12 months.

Dismissal of Criminal Charges. If you successfully complete the terms of your Plea in Abeyance and the agreement stated your charges will be dismissed, your entire case will go away.

Step Reduction in Charges  Pleas in Abeyance can also just reduce your currently pled criminal charges by one, or two reductions in grade. For example, instead of outright dismissal at the end of your probationary term, your Class A Misdemeanor would be reduced to a Class B or Class C Misdemeanor.

Where do we Find the Statute? The Utah Plea in Abeyance is found at Utah Code Ann. 77-2a-1 (2021).

What Charges can I take a Plea in Abeyance on? With numerous specific exceptions, most Utah Felonies, Infractions and Misdemeanors are capable of using a Plea in Abeyance.

Utah Plea in Abeyance Limitations.

(1). The probationary term for a Utah Plea in Abeyance cannot exceed 18 months.

(2). You cannot take a Plea in Abeyance on a DUI under Utah Code 41-6a-502.

(3). You cannot take a Plea in Abeyance on a sexual offense concerning a child victim who is under 14 years old.

(4). Certain CDL offenses taken as a Plea in Abeyance will not have the same effect as regular drivers who take Pleas in Abeyance on traffic matters. See Utah Code Ann. 53-3-419 (2017).

Violations of a Plea in Abeyance Probationary Period.

The Utah sentencing criminal court will precisely tell you what the terms of the Plea in Abeyance are. One term which is always present is that you cannot commit any new crimes—Conviction or not.

On the court’s own motion or by affidavit and motion from the prosecuting attorney, you will be brought into court to answer why you should not be sanctioned for violating the terms of your Plea in Abeyance. Violating your Plea in Abeyance terms is just like a criminal probation violation with the same rights to an evidentiary hearing.

If the court finds you violated your Utah Plea in Abeyance, the original conviction will enter against you and your sentencing terms and time will start all over again, except with the benefits of having the criminal charges reduced or dismissed at the end of your case.

The legal test for revoking a Utah Plea in Abeyance is whether you substantially complied with the terms of your probation period. If you have been convicted of a new crime during your probation period, your Plea in Abeyance will almost always be revoked. If you fail to complete treatment or fail to pay your fines, generally, you will be given another chance to comply with the court’s orders.

Utah Expungements—Relationships to Plea in Abeyance Dismissals.

Upon successfully completing your Plea in Abeyance probationary period and your charges are completely dismissed, you may have the opportunity for an expungement, under Utah law.

Expungement Waiting Period 30 Days.  Assuming your qualify for an expungement, you only have to wait 30 days from when your Plea in Abeyance case is dismissed to be eligible for a Utah expungement. Normally you would have to wait 3 years for a Class C Misdemeanor, 4 years for a Class B Misdemeanor and so forth. Pleas in Abeyance have expedited Utah expungement provisions. See the Utah Expungement Act at Utah Code Ann. 77-40-101 )(2023). There are expedited provisions for a jury not guilty verdict and when your criminal case is dismissed, either by completing the terms of your Utah Plea in Abeyance, or through outright dismissal.

Are Pleas in Abeyance Counted for Future Sentencings Considerations?

Often, statutory sentencing schemes will count prior offenses that were taken as a Plea in Abeyance as if there were convictions for criminal sentencing enhancement purposes.

Examples as to 10/2023 of statutory sentencing schemes that will consider Pleas in Abeyance as a prior conviction for criminal enhancement purposes:

(1). 23-20-4.7 (2023). Habitual wanton destruction of protected wildlife — Third degree felony.

(2). 76-9-301.7 (2023). Cruelty to animals — Enhanced penalties.

(3). 76-9-702.1 (2023). Sexual battery.

(4). 77-36-1.2 (2023). Qualifying Domestic Violence Convictions.

(5). 76-9-702 (2023). Lewdness.

(6). 17-16-10.5 (2023). Failure to perform duties constitutes malfeasance in office — Felony charges arising from official duties — Paid administrative leave — Reassignment of duties.

(7). 41-6a-518.2 (2023). Interlock restricted driver — Penalties for operation without ignition interlock system.

(8). 41-6a-529 (2023). Definitions — Alcohol restricted drivers.

(9). 53A-6-405 (2023). Ineligibility for educator license. Educator Licenses for Pleas in Abeyance to a felony of a sexual nature.

(10). 77-38a-302 (2023). Restitution criteria.   Regardless of whether you take a Plea in Abeyance or a guilty plea, criminal restitution will be assessed.  A Plea in Abeyance does not avoid criminal restitution.

(11). 76-5-106.5 (2023). Stalking — Definitions — Injunction — Penalties. Pleas in Abeyance will be treated as convictions under the criminal stalking statute.

(12). 61-2f-401 (2023). Grounds for disciplinary action. Real estate brokers and agents who use have previously used a Plea in Abeyance in the last five years prior to another sanctionable incident will be used against them in the current disciplinary hearing.

(13). Utah Controlled Substances Act. 58-37-8 (2023). Prohibited acts — Penalties. Pleas in Abeyance are treated as convictions for enhancement purposes.


If you have been charged with a Utah criminal offense, contact Jake Gunter and the criminal defense attorneys at Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC for a free no cost consultation.

The Provo criminal defense lawyers at Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC will aggressively seek Pleas in Abeyance and advocate for your case.

Call (801) 373-6345.

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