Okay, so I have a trial date. Now what?
The first thing you should do is read this information completely. The information contained here should answer most of the questions you may have. You may also consult a lawyer if you need specific legal advice about your case. Our Court Clerks cannot give you legal advice. It may help you to observe another person’s trial before your trial date. Contact the Clerk’s Office to find out when trials are set.
What happens during a trial?
The purpose of a trial is for the judge, or jury, under certain circumstances, to decide whether or not the prosecutor has proven your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The State may try to prove its case against you through the testimony (statements made during Court under oath) by witnesses, some of whom may be law enforcement officers; through physical evidence (the actual alleged controlled substance, paraphernalia, firearm, etc.); or documentary evidence (certified drivers license records, intoxilyzer results, etc.). You will be able to ask the State’s witnesses questions (cross examination), and you may have your own witnesses testify. Under certain circumstances you may also be able to present your own physical or documentary evidence. You do not have to testify if you do not want to testify. Testimony should be restricted to the facts or charge before the Court. Generally, testimony as to what someone said (hearsay) is not allowed as evidence unless the person who made the statement is present for cross-examination. At the conclusion of your defense, the County Attorney may call or recall witnesses to counter what you or your witnesses have said. You may also recall your witnesses. After presenting evidence to the judge, each side will be allowed to make a closing argument or statement. The judge will then inform you of the Court’s decision. If you are found guilty by the Court, you will be given the option to be sentenced immediately or you may ask to be sentenced on a later date. You have the right to be sentenced not less than 2 nor more than 45 days after you are declared guilty.
Don't I have the right to a jury trial?
Generally, you have the right to a trial by jury if the offense with which you are charged carries a possible jail sentence. There is no right to a jury trial if you have been accused of an infraction, or if the judge has told you that if you are convicted, you would not be given a jail sentence.
May I see the evidence the State plans to use against me at my trial?
Except as otherwise provided by law, the prosecutor shall disclose to the defense upon request the following material or information of which he has knowledge:
(1) relevant written or recorded statements of the defendant or codefendants;
(2) the criminal record of the defendant;
(3) physical evidence seized from the defendant or codefendant;
(4) evidence known to the prosecutor that tends to negate the guilt of the accused, mitigate the guilt of the defendant, or mitigate the degree of the offense for reduced punishment; and
(5) any other item of evidence which the court determines on good cause shown should be made available to the defendant in order for the defendant to adequately prepare his defense.
This means that you may ask the County Attorney’s Office to provide this information to you. It is best if you make your request in writing. If you would like more information on this process called “discovery”, see Rule 16 of the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure.
What does the State have to prove before I can be found guilty?
You are innocent unless the State is able to prove to the judge beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. Reasonable doubt is a solid doubt about the actual guilt of a defendant that arises or remains after careful and impartial examination of all the evidence. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt does not require proof to an absolute certainty. A reasonable doubt is doubt based on reason and one which is reasonable in view of all the evidence. If the judge has a reasonable doubt as to whether your guilt was satisfactorily shown, you will be found not guilty (acquitted).
What do I need to bring to my trial?
You should bring the following to court on the day of your trial: (1) The copy of the charges against you (the “Information” filed by the State--you should have received this at your pretrial); (2) Paper and pen/pencil to take notes; (3) diagrams or posters you may have prepared to illustrate your defense (or you may use the marker board in the courtroom); (4) photographic or documentary evidence if it meets the legal evidence requirements (see Utah Rules of Evidence, available at the County library or online); (5) witnesses or others whom you wish to testify on your behalf about the offense with which you are charged.
My witnesses say they won't come to court with me. Can the court make them?
The Court can issue a subpoena, or court order, commanding a witness to appear in Court. You need to provide the Court with the full name and current address of any person whom you wish the Court to subpoena. You must ask for a subpoena at least 3 weeks before your scheduled trial date.
What can I do if I disagree with the outcome of my trial?
After sentencing you may file an appeal. An appeal from Justice Court means that your case will be sent to the 8th District Court and you will be given a date for your 1st appearance before a District Court Judge. This is called a “trial de novo”. You must file your appeal in writing in Justice Court within 30 days of the date you were sentenced. The forms are available at the Clerk’s Office.
I can't be in Court on the date set or I missed my trial date. What now?
If you know at least 10 days before your trial date that you will not be able to attend your trial, you must call the Clerk’s Office and request a continuance. A continuance will not be granted without good cause. If you miss your trial date, your trial will be held without you and you will probably be found guilty. In addition, a warrant may be issued for your arrest for your failure to appear. Any bail you may have posted to get out of jail may be kept by the Court.
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.