The Criminal Prosecution Division of the Provo City Attorney’s Office prosecutes violations of law in the Provo Justice Court and the 4th District Court. It works with various police agencies, victims, witnesses, defendants, clerks, attorneys, and others to resolve cases in the interests of justice. Prosecutors screen cases and decide what charges to file. They participate in hearings, pre-trials, trials, and appeals and seek appropriate restitution, rehabilitation, fines and jail time for those found guilty.
The City Attorney’s Office prosecutes only misdemeanor cases (those for which the penalty is up to a year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine). Felony cases (more serious crimes than misdemeanors) are prosecuted by the Utah County Attorney’s Office. Most criminal cases prosecuted by the City Attorney’s Office involve seven basic stages as they move through the judicial system. These steps and procedures are summarized below:
- Crime. Criminal cases begin with a reported crime.
- Investigation. The Provo Police Department or another law enforcement agency investigates the crime and provides an investigative report to the City Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors review the report and decide in the interest of justice what charges, if any, to file.
- Arraignment. Once charges are filed against a defendant, he or she is required to appear in court before a judge. The charges are read to the defendant, who then pleads either “guilty,” “no contest,” or “not guilty.” If the defendant pleads “guilty” or “no contest,” the judge may move to the sentencing phase.
- Pre-Trial Hearing. If the defendant pleads “not guilty,” the judge will set a date for a “pre-trial” hearing. At a pre-trial hearing the parties discuss the relevant motions and issues involved in the case and either resolve the case or set for trial.
- Trial. At trial, the facts of the case are presented to either a judge or a jury. The judge or jury then considers the evidence and renders a verdict of “guilty” or “not guilty.” All necessary witnesses must appear in court at the time of trial by means of a subpoena, which is an official order of the court requiring attendance at the trial.
- Sentencing. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge may issue a sentence immediately after the trial at the defendant's request or may set sentencing for a later date. A sentence may include a fine and/or a term in the Utah County Jail. At any stage of the proceeding, if a defendant fails to appear for a court hearing, the judge may issue a warrant for the defendant's arrest.
- Appeal. If an appeal is taken of the trial court’s judgment, the Division drafts the City’s brief and represents the City at oral arguments before the appellate courts.