1. Right To Counsel
The United States and Utah Constitutions guarantee every criminal defendant the right to counsel in criminal proceedings. For those who cannot afford an attorney, the prosecuting government will pay for an attorney if the defendant faces a substantial probability of receiving jail time, even a suspended sentence of jail time.
When a defendant first appears in court, the court will explain the right to counsel and a criminal defendant who believes that he or she is entitled to counsel at government expense should request counsel at that time.
The court will ask the defendant to complete an affidavit of indigency. The person will list income, assets, and liabilities. If the person’s income is less than 150% of the poverty guidelines established by the United States government, the person will qualify for counsel. For those who make over 150% of the poverty guidelines, the court will still appoint counsel if the person is otherwise able to show that the person cannot afford to hire an attorney at his or her own expense.