Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Plea in Abeyance - The Pros and Cons

Human beings, as a whole, have a tendency to procrastinate or put things off to another day those tasks that we find unpleasant.  If the garage needs cleaning, I'll get to it this weekend, or maybe next weekend, or in the Spring.  With that in mind, what could be more unpleasant than being convicted of a criminal offense, going to jail, and having an offense on your record that you would have to notify current or future employers about.  Even if you committed the crime, wouldn't it be nice to put off the consequence of that bad choice?

In order to motivate those just entering the life of crime to change their minds and become better citizens, Utah lawmakers have provided such an out.  It is called the "Plea in Abeyance."  This is how it works: a person guilty of a crime admits that they did it by entering a plea of no contest or guilty, but instead of being sentenced within a few weeks, the sentencing is put off for six months to a year or longer.  During this period of time, the conviction for the crime is stayed.  What's more, if you behave yourself during that period of time and fly beneath the radar, at the end of the agreed upon time, you are allowed to withdraw, or take back your plea, as if you never entered it, and all charges are dismissed!  Sweet!

The Utah Code of Judicial Administration, section 4-704, makes it so.  In that rule, court clerks are given authority to accept a plea in abeyance for traffic charges, for example, and prosecutors are given the ability to negotiate pleas in abeyance for other offenses.  Those charged with offenses, including felonies, can take advantage of this law, and keep their record clean.

What's the catch you might ask?  Well, the government is all about helping people reform, and so there is a catch.  Although some plea in abeyances only require that you don't commit new offenses, most require more effort on the part of the person making the deal.  For example, in a traffic charge related to a plea in abeyance, the person who entered a plea needs to take and complete traffic school to earn the dismissal at the end of the abeyance period.  Those charged with drug offenses may have to attend a year and a half or more of a drug court, or participate in other counseling.  If it is a domestic violence charge, anger management classes may be required.  There may even be a community service component to the agreement.  The State is not collecting a fine, but you can be sure they will collect a "plea in abeyance fee" for the administrative costs of the plea in abeyance, that just happens to be exactly what the fine would have been had it been a complete conviction.  As you can see, there are strings attached, and all kinds of conditions can be negotiated that need to be completed in order to get that much desired dismissal.

Another catch is that if a person does not fully comply with the terms of the plea in abeyance agreement, then sentencing occurs, the conviction is final, and there is no right to a trial.  Prosecutors like this part because it makes for an easy conviction.  If a person flees the State, no problem, the conviction and sentencing can occur in their absence, and a warrant would be issued.  Jail time can be ordered, and the judge has all the options he or she would have had without the plea in abeyance agreement.

So what are the downsides to a plea in abeyance.  First, most people are overly confident that they can earn the dismissal and do all that is required.  I have seen client who are offered to plead guilty and be sentenced on a misdemeanor, or take a plea in abeyance on a felony and earn a dismissal.  They opt for the plea in abeyance, fail to do their part, and end up with a felony conviction.  Those addicted to drugs or self control issues should weigh carefully their options, and not be overly confident in their ability to jump through the required hoops.  Sometimes it is better to take a lesser conviction than risk a bigger conviction down the line.  For example, many courts require a plea to all of the filed charges in order to qualify for the plea in abeyance, that sometimes results in convictions to multiple felonies later, instead of a single misdemeanor conviction today.

It should also be noted that not all crimes are eligible for a plea in abeyance.  For example, you cannot get a plea in abeyance for a DUI.  It has been legislatively excluded.  If you drink and drive, no dismissal for you.

Other things to consider are that, although the court does not consider a plea in abeyance as a conviction, sometimes other agencies do.  For example, lets say an 18 year old young man gets a plea in abeyance for a marijuana charge.  If the court reports that plea to the State Drivers License Division, that person's drivers license will be suspended, even without being sentenced or having a complete conviction.  Also, Drivers License Division takes actions against commercial drivers licenses in some driving offense plea in abeyance situations, and will suspend the commercial drivers license, even if the charges are later dismissed.  Employers are likewise starting to ignore the subtle difference between a plea and a conviction, and on job applications they may ask, have you ever entered into a plea in abeyance in addition to questions about criminal history.

Because of the various risks and benefits to a plea in abeyance, it is a good idea to consult with a lawyer before jumping into such an arrangement.  In fact, it is always a good idea to have a lawyer on board when facing criminal charges.  First, a lawyer can help negotiate a plea in abeyance when it otherwise may not have been offered.  Second, a lawyer can help negotiate the terms so that a person isn't set up for failure.  Third, a lawyer can steer a client away from a deal that may be too good to be true if the consequences trying to be avoided, like license suspension, will happen with a plea in abeyance, and can help negotiate a better deal to obtain the desired outcome.  Finally, a lawyer can follow up with the court to make sure charges get dismissed.

I have assisted hundreds
clients in obtaining plea in abeyance resolutions.  I have also helped clients get the promised dismissals when the court and prosecution haven't followed up on the deal.  If you are faced with a charge, and want to know if a plea in abeyance is possible, or if it will be good for you, give me a call.

69 comments:

  1. Nice post! It should also be noted that not all crimes are eligible for a plea in abeyance. For example, you cannot get a plea in abeyance for a DUI. It has been legislatively excluded. If you drink and drive, no dismissal for you.

    Criminal Defense Attorney

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for teaching me more about defense lawyers. This has really sharpened my knowledge on the justice system.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have been trying to find a good criminal attorney in Chicago. Does anybody know where I can find one?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for this blog. It's not always easy trying to find a criminal lawyer in Port Orchard, WA and this gave me a lot of help.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for all the great advice. I need to find criminal lawyers in Omaha NE and this is really great to know! I've never had to find a lawyer before so I didn't even know where to begin.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I need a lot of help with my case and have been looking for a new criminal defense attorney in Poulsbo, WA .

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have a question. What is the difference between a dui lawyer in Edmonton and a criminal defense lawyer? Thank you for the information!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great post! I've been looking for a quality drug lawyer in Edmonton but don't know what to look for. Do you have any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have been studying criminal law in Highland, IN. It's tough, but I am doing alright thus far. I just need to get past finals week.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Criminal lawyers are now a days helping a lot in defending the clients who are involved in various types of serious cases like domestic violence, murders, DUI etc.
    miami-criminal-defense-lawyer.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. Excellent blog you’ve got here.It’s difficult to find high-quality writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate individuals like you! Take care!! Please check out my site.
    Salt Lake City tax attorney

    ReplyDelete
  12. After reading some nice stuff in your article I really feel speechless, because it is quit pretty article.


    Miami dui attorney

    ReplyDelete
  13. It's so important that you get a lawyer that cares about your case. Communication between you and your criminal defence lawyer is key for your case as well. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete

  14. I have enjoyed reading your post. It is well written. It looks like you spend a large amount of time and effort on your blog. I appreciate your effort. Please check out my site.
    Utah tax attorney

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow, I learned a lot! It's interesting to here current information on how you try to help people who've made mistakes. Keep up the good work!

    Jim | http://www.kaisergroupaz.com/services.html

    ReplyDelete
  16. This is a great post, I have enjoyed reading it. My brother in law works at a law firm for . He just loves his job and one day he will make an excellent lawyer.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Nice article. I think it is useful and unique article. I love this kind of article and this kind of blog. I have enjoyed it very much. Thanks for your website.
    Utah tax attorney

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you for the information, I'm currently helping my brother look for a criminal attorney. And I want to help him out as best as I can with this, because this is a real serious issue. So if anyone has any information that they could offer, then that would be great.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Although, there are many good advocates in Israeli, it’s hard to find a great israeli advocate. Due to this, a question comes up: what makes a good advocate great? Well, the answer lies in how you conduct yourself as an advocate. For you to be great, you need to be professional. This means that you need to treat your clients and partners with utter respect. You also need to research all the cases that you have. This will ensure that you have all the facts when you present the cases in court. In addition to this, you also need to love your job. When you love being an advocate, there is no reason as to why you can’t be great!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks for compiling such nicest information in your blogs. Articles are very informative and hope again I’ll find more like that. brain injury claims

    ReplyDelete
  21. Excellent blog you’ve got here.It’s difficult to find high-quality writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate individuals like you! Take care!! Please check out my site.
    Salt Lake City tax attorney

    ReplyDelete
  22. Section 4-704, is really well described about Utah Code of Judicial Administration.Likewise DUI attorney, you can also find best criminal defense lawyer in Tucson, US.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have enjoyed reading your post. It is well written. It looks like you spend a large amount of time and effort on your blog. I appreciate your effort. Please check out my site.
    Utah tax attorney

    ReplyDelete
  24. Excellent post! It is important to have good communication between you and your lawyer. It will end in a better result the more they care about your case. So get to know your lawyer!

    Alena |http://lawyerfrederickmd.com/Criminal-Defense-Frederick-MD.html

    ReplyDelete
  25. I have been searching out some of your stories and i can state that this one pretty nicely stuff. I have enjoyed your post, which nicely written on interesting story. Thanks for sharing such a great stuff with us. I hope more to come. criminal attorney nyc

    ReplyDelete
  26. This blog post is really great; the standard stuff of the post is genuinely amazing. New York Arraignment Lawyer

    ReplyDelete
  27. Yeah you need to contact a great criminal defense attorney the moment you bail out of jail with cash or a bail bond because of the damage control factor. These lawyers are invaluable to our bail bond company's clientele.

    Source:
    A Hope Bail Bonds | 800 S. Casino Center Blvd | Las Vegas, NV 89101 | (702) 825-2245

    ReplyDelete
  28. Wow amazing, Nice content I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion Thanks to sharing thanks! ny central booking

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thank you for the post. I had no idea that plea existed! Is it used often? Also, is it only available for certain types of crimes committed? I cannot imagine it being offered to a murderer. I would like more information on the various options those have that do plead guilty.

    Emily Marshall | The Macneil Firm

    ReplyDelete
  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I really appreciate you sharing this information! I've been thinking about maybe going into law, but wanted to find out more about it first. After seeing this, I really like the idea of becoming a defense lawyer and being able to provide those who have been charged or those who maybe charged with the understanding of how the law works.

    http://www.surreycriminallawyer.com/en/

    ReplyDelete
  32. Wow, how many people can say they have received such a sweet deal? My brother is into drugs and trying to stay clean. I sure hope he gets a deal like this. Maybe this would motivate him to stay sober?

    bryanflake1984| http://www.caplanlaw.com/drug-crimes/

    ReplyDelete
  33. Wow, he really makes a good point here. I have never committed a crime to go to court or anything, but I can see that it may have just been a bad choice. No one's perfect, and everyone has the right to change their lives.
    Edmond Vandergraff | http://www.daglawyers.com/Criminal-Defense/

    ReplyDelete
  34. The most common types of offenses that usually are associated with a Plea in Abeyance are shoplifting, drug possession, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, reckless driving, etc. It is very uncommon for a DUI or alcohol related offenses to end up with a Plea in Abeyance. Todd Foster

    ReplyDelete
  35. This article really helped me out. I know someone that is facing a criminal charge and is working with a criminal lawyer. This whole article is really going to help me better understand what is going on.
    http://www.edwardandrewslaw.com

    ReplyDelete
  36. I hope I never have to go through that. It doesn't sound like a fun process. If I do though my friend suggested I use http://www.kirstenswansonlaw.com/criminal-law.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I really like the graphic of the game Monopoly. I think it really adds to your post! This has taught me a lot about the job of a criminal defense lawyer. http://www.wilcoxlaw.ca

    ReplyDelete
  38. My brother has a few drug charges and I really don't think he is in a major legal straits situation. He has some DUI charges. We as a family feel it would show a lot to have him start working and show the judge down the road that he is turning a corner on bad habits. Would a plea in abeyance work to his favor?

    bryanflake1984| http://www.yergertyler.com/lawyer-attorney-1551886.html

    ReplyDelete
  39. I have gotten a lot out of this blog post and others that you have posted. There are so many things that can happen in court that it becomes imperative to have a strong lawyer on your side. I can come to that conclusion confidently by all the comments.
    Wishing everyone luck. BMatthews
    http://www.asheborolaw.com/#!traffic/c1lx4

    ReplyDelete
  40. I recently learned that in some states if you are pulled over for DUI and you refuse a breathalyzer test, you automatically forfeit your license for one year? Is that true in some states? I need to figure out if my state has that statute. Obviously, I should be careful not too get into a dui situation. Never drink and drive as they say.

    bryanflake1984| http://zacharylawgroup.com/lawyer-practice-areas/dui-lawyers/

    ReplyDelete
  41. One of the great things about attorneys is the expectation of no-win-no-fee. When I go to the store, I only pay for what I carry out with me. Doctors feel free to charge whether they heal or not; lawyers who only charge you when there is a victory in court deserve medals for being so ethical.

    Paul | dwyerlaw.com.au

    ReplyDelete
  42. Thanks for the information. I'd never heard of this type of plea before, and it might be the exact thing my brother should use. It was a fluke accident, so there's not chance of him ending up back in the same case and getting a felony, and it wasn't a DUI. I'll refer him to your website right away.

    Jenn | http://www.dwlaw.ca/OurLawyers/tabid/56/Default.aspx

    ReplyDelete
  43. This was great to read. I have really been interested in my case recently. I have been trying to figure out what would be best for me. I'm glad I found this.

    Aaron | http://www.yergertyler.com/lawyer-attorney-1540032.html

    ReplyDelete
  44. I hope that soemone can tell me (from own long-time experience) if installaware is a real alternative to InstallShield when I need a tool to build installations that meets the intention and the requirement of Microsoft Installer.

    ReplyDelete
  45. My best friend is trying to seek legal advice. He is going to need a criminal defense lawyer. I am going to have to refer him to this blog. http://www.lawyerfrederickmd.com

    ReplyDelete
  46. I didn't know that different organizations view a plea in abeyance differently. This post has been very informative! I will have to keep this in mind if I ever need a DUI lawyer, which I really hope I never will.

    Jenny Noble | http://www.jkweatherilllaw.com/services.html

    ReplyDelete
  47. I am very enjoyed for this blog. I feel strongly about it and love very important information. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.

    Feel free to visit this site ... Denver Drug Attorney

    ReplyDelete
  48. My brother got in trouble once, and had to figure things out all by himself. He got a consultation, so that helped. His plea in abeyance would've gone much smoother with an attorney. http://www.chesleylawyers.com/attorneys/

    ReplyDelete
  49. I agree that as humans we tend to procrastinate things that we find unpleasant. My cousin got in some trouble with the law and he has been putting off finding a criminal defense lawyer, so I'm looking for one for him. I care about him and want him to get this figure out as soon as possible.

    Amber Johnson | http://www.alvineandkinglaw.com/index.php/page/criminal_defense

    ReplyDelete
  50. It is important to know the pros and cons of a plea in abeyance. Like you said, we put off things we find unpleasant. Criminal charges, however, shouldn't be put off. Hiring a criminal defense attorney can help reduce a sentence, or make pleas in abeyance go much smoother. http://www.jamesdostal.com/about_us.html

    ReplyDelete
  51. I couldn't agree more, often people put off things they view as unpleasant. But it is important to not put off something as important as getting a criminal defense lawyer. They can be a huge help and great asset to any case.

    Amber | http://www.franklinfamilylaw.com/legal-services/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Knowing the pros and cons is always critical no matter the situation. I agree with a lot of what you said and really enjoyed the article. I agree with you Amber, it's so important not to put off finding a quality criminal defense lawyer such as for drug crimes.

      Jessie | http://www.schurmanlaw.com/Drug-Crimes-Seattle-WA.html

      Delete
  52. I've never heard of the "Plea in Abeyance." I think that's a great idea that they are giving people a second chance to become a better person. This way, their time is better well-spent and they are becoming a better citizen as well.

    Brooke Bowen | http://www.schurmanlaw.com/Drug-Crimes-Seattle-WA.html

    ReplyDelete
  53. I recently got a speeding ticket. I went to court to arrange payment plans, and they gave me a Plea in Abeyance. As long as I pay it off by the end of the year, it doesn't go on my record. That is so helpful to me, because I really don't want my insurance to go up.

    Jim Tracy | http://www.surreycriminallawyer.com/en/

    ReplyDelete
  54. I don't consider myself a criminal but I know there is a warrant out for my arrest. I have a speeding ticked as well that I haven't payed yet. I just don't have the money for it.

    http://johnlykelaw.com/Services.html

    ReplyDelete
  55. Thanks for the tips. I didn't realize law was so complicated until now-- or at least, I didn't have to deal with its complications until now. I think I'll see a professional lawyer to sort my case out. I wouldn't want to make any mistakes.

    Jenn | http://www.markbattaglia.com

    ReplyDelete
  56. I think being a criminal lawyer would be one of the scariest and hardest jobs. They would have to deal with so many people that aren't in the best situations and they would also have to help the person that should be guilty get an easier punishment depending on what it is. Hopefully they don't find it that hard, I know I would love to find out. http://www.russolawyers.com.au/services/criminal-law

    ReplyDelete
  57. I agree that people often put off the things that they don't want to deal with. I have a cousin who needs to get a criminal law attorney and he keeps putting it off. I want to help him to find an attorney who can help him with his case. Thanks for sharing this information!

    Amber | http://www.hammerlawlax.com/

    ReplyDelete
  58. This is such a thorough walk-through of that part of defense law. There are some tricky parts of criminal defense that can really catch you if you're not careful. My brother's case was particularly hairy. This is good information to know ahead of time. http://www.markwbenjamin.com

    ReplyDelete
  59. I think it is cool that there are offers for those who are under persecution by the state. I had no idea there was a "Plea in Abeyance" for those who need it. I think that this option helps keep the prisons less crowded, which is a big problem in the nation. http://www.mississaugacriminallawyer.net/en/all_drug_charges.html

    ReplyDelete
  60. I think plea in abeyances are excellent legal maneuvers. Many times, they allow the accused to receive treatment without acquiring a permanent criminal record. Since plea in abeyances are not typically offered to repeat offenders, the recipients of these deals are usually decent people.

    http://www.rockettlawokc.com/about/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope that I can get a plea in abeyance. I have been charged with marijuana possession. This can't go on my record because I receive Pell Grants. I won't be able to go to school if I am convicted. Hopefully my attorney will be able to secure a deal.

      http://www.hermillerlaw.com

      Delete
    2. I think that you will be able to get a plea in abeyance, Jerry. I think the judge will like the fact that you are a student. It would be best for society if you continued with your studies. However, you never know, so you should probably hire an attorney.

      http://www.begleycarlin.com/practice/criminal-law

      Delete
  61. It is true that as humans we put off things that aren't that important to us. In accordance with this article I remember I had a speeding ticket to pay. I decided to put it off because I thought I had better things to do. Eventually my friend reminded me and I immediately payed it because it was getting close to the deadline to pay it.

    http://fortlauderdalecriminalattorney.us

    ReplyDelete
  62. I think I have never seen such blogs ever before that has complete things with all details which I want. So kindly update this ever for us. http://blclawcenter.com

    ReplyDelete