I've been given an arraignment date . What does that mean, anyway?
You have been issued a citation (a ticket) by a law enforcement officer informing you that in the officer’s opinion you have violated (or broken) one or more laws, rules, or regulations of the State of Utah, Uintah County, Division of Wildlife Resources, or Parks & Recreation. An arraignment is an opportunity for you to have the Judge explain what constitutional rights you have and exactly what law, rule, or regulation the officer is accusing you of violating. After the Judge is sure you understand your rights and the charge or charges against you, you will be asked to enter a plea.
What's a plea?
A plea is your answer to the officer’s accusations. You can admit that you violated the law like the officer said and plead GUILTY. If you don’t want to admit that you did anything wrong but you really don’t want to argue about the ticket, you can plead NO CONTEST. If you plead guilty or no contest, you can then tell the Judge anything you think she should know about how and why you got the ticket. Unless you plead guilty or no contest, the Judge cannot hear your explanation. After you plead guilty or no contest, you can find out right away what your punishment is for that charge. You could also tell the Judge you want to come back to court another day and be sentenced. The Judge may tell you that because of certain circumstances, she will not sentence you that day but will order that you come to court another day. A sentence is the punishment for the violation and might be a fine, jail time, probation, restitution, counseling, or any combination.Because our laws say that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, you may plead NOT GUILTY. That means that you want the prosecutor to try and prove to the Judge that you are guilty. When you plead not guilty, the Judge sets your case for a pretrial. A pretrial is an opportunity for you to discuss your case with a representative from the County Attorney’s Office, the agency which is prosecuting your case and is the lawyer for the State of Utah or Uintah County against you. If your case can’t be settled at pretrial, a trial will be scheduled at a later date.
At all critical stages of your case, you have the right to be represented by a lawyer. You may hire a lawyer to help you with any type of case; however your right to have a public defender paid for you by Uintah County is limited. If there is no possibility of a jail sentence if you are convicted, there is no right to a court appointed lawyer. You must also financially qualify for a public defender. You should ask a clerk or the judge at your first appearance in court for more information about obtaining a lawyer.
Why can't I just talk to Judge Petry in her office about my ticket?
Arraignments are conducted in the courtroom for several reasons. One is so you have an opportunity to see and hear how the cases of other people who have received tickets are handled. Another is that all courtroom proceedings must be digitally recorded. Also, because of the number of cases that are handled by the Court, a schedule with definite dates for appearances by those receiving tickets is necessary.
What happens if something comes up & I can't be in court when scheduled?
If you know at least 2 days before your arraignment date that you cannot come to court as scheduled, you must contact the Clerk’s Office for a new date. If an emergency arises and you are not able to contact the Clerk’s Office 2 days before your arraignment date, you must arrange a new date by 5 pm of the date originally scheduled. A warrant for your arrest will be issued by the Judge if you do not come to court when scheduled and you did not contact the Clerk’s Office to arrange a new arraignment date. In addition, bail paid to get out of jail may be kept by the court if you do not appear when scheduled.
The Uintah County Justice Court presents the information on this web site as a service to the public. We have tried to ensure that the information contained in these electronic documents is accurate. The Uintah County Justice Court makes no warranty or guarantee concerning the accuracy or reliability of the content at this site or at other sites to which we link. Assessing the accuracy and reliability of the information is the responsibility of the user. The Uintah County Justice Court shall not be liable for errors contained herein or for any damages in connection with the use of the information contained herein. This web site is meant to provide basic information about the pretrial procedures used by the Uintah County Justice Court. The information is not legal advice about your particular situation and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you still have questions, please phone the Clerk’s Office or seek the advice of your own lawyer.