What is a sentence?
A sentence is the legal consequence or result of your actions. The main goal of sentencing is to make the result of your actions unpleasant enough that you will not want to break the law again. The sentence should also be unpleasant enough that other people will not want to break the law either. Providing restitution to victims, such as having you pay for the amount of property damage you caused is also a purpose of sentencing.
You do not have to find out what your sentence is on the same day you are declared guilty unless, with the Court’s approval, you wish to be sentenced on the same day. For offenses involving domestic violence, alcohol, drugs, or personal injury & property damage, the Court generally delays sentencing so that an investigation can be made into your criminal history or information from victims can be obtained. If the Court delays your sentencing, you will also be permitted to provide the Court with a written statement of your own, & statements of other people about your character. A sentence may include a fine, payment of restitution, jail time, counseling, drug/alcohol testing, or any combination. You may also be required to obtain a driver’s license, insurance, or motor vehicle registration if applicable.
How does the Judge decide what my sentence should be?
Many offenses have standard sentences throughout the State of Utah, including the amount of the fine. Our lawmakers have determined in some instances what the sentence should be for a particular offense. Generally, this Court gives persons convicted of the same offense the same sentence. At times, if the Court believes, based on someone’s past history, that the routine sentence for a particular offense will not sufficiently keep that person from committing more crimes, the Court may impose more fine or jail time. Likewise, the Court takes into consideration the lack of a person’s criminal history.
Can't I know what the sentence is BEFORE I decide if I should admit or deny the charge against me?
You have the right to know that the Uintah County Justice Court (or any other justice court) cannot sentence you to pay more than $1,850 fine/surcharge or sentence you to serve more than 180 days for each violation classified as a class B misdemeanor. For each violation classified as a class C misdemeanor, the Court cannot sentence you to pay more than $1,387.50 fine/surcharge or order you to serve more than 90 days. If you are charged with an infraction, the fine and surcharge can be no more than $1,387.50. The Court cannot sentence you to jail for violation of an infraction. If you are charged with more than one violation, the Court can require that you serve your jail time concurrently (at the same time) or consecutively (one after the other). The Judge can tell you in general terms what your sentence might be before you admit guilt or plead no contest, however, because other factors are considered during the sentencing decision, usually the Court cannot tell you with certainty what your sentence would be.
What does the Court mean by "suspensions" of fine and/or jail time?
Generally, the Court will sentence you to the maximum fine and jail time with a substantial portion of each suspended. This means that the Judge does not believe that you need to be punished to the full extent allowed by law unless you do not do everything else the Court has ordered, such as pay the “unsuspended” portion of your fine or complete your probation satisfactorily. The Court may rescind or revoke your suspensions if you do not obey the Court’s orders, and you may face a substantial jail term and be required to pay the entire fine.
What happens if I can't do or pay something when the Judge told me to?
Fine payment arrangements are made at the time you are sentenced. If you cannot pay when due, it is your responsibility to contact the Court in person, by phone, or through the mail to request other arrangements. Generally, the Clerks can extend one payment date for you. After one extension, if you cannot make your next payment, you will need to make an appointment to appear before the Judge and make an explanation. If you do not pay when ordered and you do not contact the Court for an extension, the Court may immediately issue a warrant for your arrest. If you cannot pay your fine in cash, community service work can be arranged for you. If you do not pay in cash or do community service work, you will be required to serve jail time and a $25 credit for every day you are in jail will be used to satisfy your obligation.
Are there any good excuses for not paying my fine or contacting the Court?
In a word, NO. Even though you have been ordered to pay a fine, the Court realizes that circumstances come up that make you have to choose between providing necessities for you or your family or paying your Court-ordered fine. If you will only contact the Court, either in person, by phone, or through the mail, other arrangements may be worked out. The best way to get yourself arrested is not to pay or contact the Court.
I've been placed on probation. What does that mean?
There are two types of probation in this Court: informal probation and formal probation. You have been placed on formal probation if you have signed a written probation agreement which tells you exactly what you must and must not do. You will always be required to keep the Court informed of your current mailing & physical address and to obey all laws and ordinances. Other provisions will be listed in your probation agreement. In exchange for the privilege of being placed on probation, the Court has probably suspended the majority of your jail time and some, if not most, of your fine amounts. As long as you complete your probation time without breaking any of the terms and conditions, the suspended portions of your sentence will be eliminated and your file closed. If you violate your probation, the Court could revoke your probation and commit you to jail for the original sentence. You could also owe the balance of the fine.
Informal probation means that although there is no signed probation agreement, the Court still has the right to take action against you if you do not pay your fine or fail to do whatever else the Court has ordered. Usually, informal probation ends as soon as you have paid your fine in full.
Does the Court know if I don't follow the terms of my probation?
Absolutely. The Court Services Officer for this Court also serves as Probation Officer. The Officer’s responsibilities include periodically checking to see if your payments are current, telling you to submit to drug testing, asking if you have served your jail time, taken classes, etc. This Court also receives information about you from other sources such as other courts, drivers license division, and motor vehicles. The purpose of probation is not to punish you but to give you an opportunity to prove to the Court that you have taken responsibility for your own actions. Right behavior will be rewarded through suspensions and possible early release from probation; actions for violations will be taken and may include jail time and additional fines.
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.