In the Utah criminal justice system pleas are often held in abeyance. This is a compassionate means by which an accused person is given a second chance. If you have been given a plea in abeyance, you know that your guilty plea does not count against you as a conviction. What a huge benefit this is to you. Your attorney has emphasized to you the importance of complying with all the terms of your plea in abeyance. You also know that once all the abeyance conditions are met, your charges can be dismissed. Once dismissed, the charges can never again be brought against you. Wow! What an opportunity!
Be careful though! Many people have made the mistake of assuming that a dismissal of charges automatically follows a plea in abeyance. This is not always the case. It is true that some courts will automatically dismiss the charges once all conditions of an abeyance are satisfied. However, these cases are in the minority. The reality is that most courts wait for you to request that your charges be dismissed. How is this done? Have your attorney take the following simple steps:
- Print out a court docket showing that all abeyance conditions have been satisfied,
- attach the docket to a stipulated motion to withdraw guilty plea and dismiss charges,
- sign the motion for defendant (by counsel if represented),
- send the motion and a consistent court order to the prosecutor with a cover letter explaining that the enclosed motion is consistent with the agreement entered into at the time the abeyance began, and requesting that the prosecutor sign and submit to the judge with the accompanying order.
So long as all conditions are met, your judge should immediately sign the order dismissing all charges. At this point you should remember that the original charges remain on your record until you do an expungement. Once your charges are dismissed you only need to wait 30 days to become eligible for an expungement. So, if you are uncomfortable having the charges mentioned on your background, contact a lawyer to talk about an expungement.
Remember, stay safe, be smart and call us when you need us!