Utah Plea In Abeyance

If you have a Utah Plea in Abeyance, you are in luck!!

A Utah plea in abeyance is a special type of plea entered in a criminal case that allows the case to be dismissed after successful completion of probation.  The official definition is “an order by a court, upon motion of the prosecution and the defendant, accepting a plea of guilty or of no contest from the defendant but not, at that time, entering judgment of conviction against him nor imposing sentence upon him on condition that he comply with specific conditions as set forth in a plea in abeyance agreement.”  See U.C.A. 77-2a-1.

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.  Also, any type of violent offense or offense in which serious injury was inflicted is usually disqualified for a Plea in Abeyance.  A short consultation with Utah Expungement Attorney Matthew Kober will determine whether you had a plea in abeyance in your case.

The way a plea in abeyance work is you enter a plea with the court but it is held off to the side, or “in abeyance”, by the court and you are not sentenced, except for certain probationary terms are imposed.  If you successfully complete your probation, at the end of the probationary period the case is dismissed “with prejudice.”  **PLEASE NOTE: if you violate your probation by committing another offense, you already entered a plea with the court and the court can accept that plea and sentence you according to the particular offense. (Then you will have to account for the second offense as well.)

Once your case is dismissed with prejudice, you are eligible for expungement after 30 days of the dismissal.  You should start the expungement process immediately to have the charge removed from you record.  Many people think that once it is dismissed it automatically comes off your record.  That is not true.   A charge or arrest stays on your record forever until it is expunged, even if it is dismissed with prejudice.

The irony concerning a plea in abeyance is that this type of plea makes you eligible for expungement FASTER than a straight dismissal.  For example, let’s say you were charged with shoplifting and you said you didn’t do it and wanted the case to be dismissed.  If the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case, it would be dismissed “without prejudice”.

When a case is dismissed without prejudice, you must wait for the statute of limitations to expire until you are eligible for expungement, which in this example would be two years.   In most situations, accepting a plea in abeyance will make you eligible for expungement after either 7 or 13 months, instead of 25 months.  This can make a big difference especially if you want to find a new job or get student loans for college.   Don’t wait to start the expungement process.