Utah subscribes to an indeterminate sentencing policy, so instead of prescribing a set period of jail time, a judge will order a range of time to be served. For example, rather than ordering 2 years, a judge will order a prison sentence of 1-5 years. Potential sentences vary according to degree of offense. The possibilities are as follows:
Offense Level Potential Jail/Prison Time Potential Fine
Class A 0-12 Months Jail Time Up to $2,500
Class B 0-6 Months Jail Time Up to $1,000
Class C 0-90 Days Jail Time Up to $750
First Degree 5 Years to Life Up to $10,000
Second Degree 1 to 15 Years Up to $10,000
Third Degree 0 to 5 Years Up to $5,000
By statute, sentencing must occur no later than 45 days after a conviction but no sooner than 2 days after. This time period is sometimes waived so that sentencing may occur the day of conviction; typically, this happens when you and your attorney have reached a plea agreement with the prosecution. When a plea bargain has been reached, it will typically include a sentencing recommendation which the prosecution has agreed to in exchange for your guilty or no contest plea. It is important to note that the judge is not legally required to follow this recommendation.
If the sentencing period is not waived, a sentencing hearing will be scheduled for a later date. At that hearing, the judge will decide your sentence. While the Utah Sentencing Guidelines aid the court’s decision, the judge is not legally bound to follow them. He or she will use information from the case, as well as any information contained in any pre-sentence reports that have been prepared to inform his or her sentencing decision. You have a right to have an attorney present at this hearing, and it is in your best interests to do so.
Once in jail or prison, the actual amount of time you serve will be determined by the Utah Board of Parole and Pardons. Using the same guidelines used in sentencing as well as your behavior and progress during incarceration, the Board will periodically evaluate your case and determine when you will be released. Unlike a sentencing hearing in court, you do not have a right to have an attorney present at Board hearings; however, it is a good idea to consult with one prior to your scheduled hearing.
If you or someone you know needs representation at sentencing or before the Utah Board of Parole and Pardons, contact ADM Legal Defense today for your free consultation.