In most Utah courts, the judge will expect the defendant to appear in person at an arraignment hearing. If you ignore and skip a scheduled arraignment, the court will likely issue a warrant for your arrest. However, sometimes a court will accept a waiver of the formal arraignment or may allow a defendant to appear remotely or through counsel. Your attorney can help explain your options.
Quick Questions & Answers
- What if I cannot appear in person at arraignment? There can be circumstances that simply make it impossible or impractical to be physically present at a scheduled criminal arraignment hearing. Health and distance are two common reasons, but there may be others as well. In misdemeanor cases, some Utah courts will accept a written waiver of the right to a formal arraignment. Some judges may also allow a "remote" appearance by phone or video, or may allow your attorney to appear in court on your behalf.
- Does a prosecutor have to provide copies of search warrant affidavits? Under Rule 16 of the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure (2022), a prosecutor is required to disclose and provide the defense with a copy of any warrant relating to the case. This includes any search warrants. The rule also requires prosecutors to turn over copies of any warrant affidavits filed in support of such warrants. When a judge signs a search warrant in Utah, the court should require an affidavit from the officer seeking the warrant. The affidavit is supposed to set out the facts believed to establish probable cause to justify the warrant. That affidavit must also be provided…
- What is an arraignment hearing? In a misdemeanor criminal case, the arraignment hearing is the first court hearing held. The judge will read the formal charges and ask the defendant to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The judge may also ask the defendant if an attorney has been hired, if a public defender is being requested, or if the defendant intends to represent himself.
- What is the first felony court hearing in Utah? The first hearing in a misdemeanor criminal case is normally the "arraignment" hearing, where the judge will read the charges formally filed in the case and ask the defendant to enter plea of either guilty or not guilty. In Utah felony cases, the arraignment does not occur until after the case has been "bound over" for trial in the district court. The first felony court hearing is sometimes referred to simply as an "initial appearance" or "felony first hearing."
- Is a preliminary hearing required in misdemeanor cases? A preliminary hearing ("preliminary examination" under the Utah State Constitution) is an opportunity for the court to determine whether the prosecution has enough evidence to justify moving the case forward to trial. If the court finds that the evidence establishes probable cause to believe that a charged crime has occurred and that the defendant is the person who committed the crime, the judge (acting as magistrate) will enter a "bindover" order requiring further proceedings moving toward trial. A preliminary hearing ("examination") or a waiver by both parties is required in all felony cases, and also in any class A misdemeanor…