It seems like this question comes a lot online. It’s understandable too. The State of Utah hands these things out like candy. However, right off the bat, I will say that this type of candy may look good on the outside, but it has a nasty inside. It would be in everyone’s best interest to contact our firm or some firm (not the prosecutor aka state attorney) and get a consultation before entering a plea agreement like this for each specific case. It is worth the time and money to get legal advice on this.
A Plea in Abeyance is an easy way for the State to get convictions with doing little to no leg work. A Plea in Abeyance is a conviction. The person has to plead guilty in order to get the deal. A Plea in Abeyance deal is usually something along the lines of being able to get the case dismissed down the road if no new criminal laws are violated for usually a period of six months to a year. It can also include a payment of a fine in an amount that depends on the crime. There’s also a payment that is usually made to monitor that person for the duration of the time.
It sounds like a good deal. No new crimes and the case is dismissed. How hard is it to commit a new crime? It’s actually not as easy as one may think. Most of those agreements include traffic offenses and that’s where the State rakes in all of the money, convictions, future convictions and dash lives, hopes and dreams.
Not a lot of people consult a Utah criminal attorney with a traffic offense and from the get go, they think they are getting a great deal and just want to get the stupid offense over with and move on living a traffic-offense free life. Then one day something crazy happens and they get another traffic offense and the State brings down the hammer. It’s so easy to commit a traffic offense that it’s almost impossible to know if someone can abide by the terms of a Plea in Abeyance.
What if I get Probation violation on the original Utah criminal charge?
Also, if someone commits a new crime (or traffic offense) then the crime they entered the agreement with will be considered a probation violation and will almost certainly be found guilty of for that probation violation. As a result, the State of Utah will take away the agreement on the original offense and reinstitute heavier fines and or jail time depending on the crime without having to prove anything on the prior crime (because that person already pleaded guilty).
Could I get a harsher punishment on the new crime if I violate the plea in abeyance?
Yes. A person can get a harsher punishment on a new crime if a plea in abeyance. Not to mention the new crime and fines and potential jail time that one will entail and now there is a new recent criminal background on the old charge to put in harsher punishments on the new charge. It can be nasty. If someone has a drug problem and has been charged with theft it is not a good idea to enter a agreement like this until they have the drug problem under control.
Things outside your control
That’s not even the tip of the iceburg with these things. Employers, apartment complexes and other housing authorities can still see your Plea Agreement as pleading guilty and not allow you a contract or a job. Also, car insurance companies can see the agreement as pleading guilty and may raise your premiums as a result.
Can a plea in abeyance affect my Immigration status?
Plus, it can affect immigration. (see immigration when charged with a crime below) If someone enters an agreement like this and it involves domestic violence or a Class A misdemeanor and above, immigration could initiate removal procedures against them. That’s a big deal. A Plea in Abeyance is a big deal. There’s a lot at stake. I would recommend that everyone consult with an attorney before entering a deal like this. An hour consult can save years of headache, unexpected fees and regret.
Can I get my plea in abeyance Expunged?
Finally, many people do not know that even though the case is dismissed, there will still be a dismissal on their record. Many employers and housing companies may look at that with a raised eyebrow and not allow you housing or a job even for a dismissal. Depending on the case, it usually takes quite a few years before someone can even qualify to petition the state to get their record expunged. If you have more questions about expungements please contact our firm to speak to our skilled Utah Criminal Defense Attorney.