How Do I Prepare for a Criminal Trial?

If you face criminal charges in Utah, you might wonder how to prepare for trial. Whether you are facing misdemeanor charges or severe felony offenses, being prepared for trial can significantly impact the outcome of your case. Here are a few things to consider when preparing for trial: 

Understand Your Charges

Understanding the charges against you is the first step in preparing for trial. Depending on the nature and seriousness of the offense, you may be facing fines, community service, probation, jail time, or even prison. Every case is different, so it’s essential to speak with your lawyer about the consequences you are facing. 

Find a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges, having an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side is vital to ensure your rights are protected and that you are treated fairly. Finding an experienced criminal defense lawyer is the first and one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself in the process.

When seeking a lawyer, get recommendations from trusted family members or friends, and schedule consultations to speak with potential lawyers so that you can discuss your case and ask any questions you may have. Having a skilled criminal defense attorney can seriously impact the outcome of your case, so make sure you find the right person to represent you. 

Gather Evidence

Be sure to compile any evidence you have to share with your lawyer, which may include documents, screenshots, or photographs. Your lawyer will talk with you about the best way to gather other evidence that is not in your possession and may use the assistance of a private investigator to get evidence to use in your defense. 

Understand the Court Process

The court process in Utah can be lengthy, and it’s helpful to understand what types of hearings you may have. Depending on what kind of case you are charged with, your first hearing will often be an “initial appearance,” which is the first time you see a judge.

The judge will give you a copy of your charging document, called “Information.” The judge will ask if you want your charges read out loud. The judge will also ask if you have retained an attorney. If you already have an attorney, they will attend this hearing with you and speak on your behalf. After your initial appearance, your lawyer will obtain a copy of the prosecutor’s evidence and review it with you. Then, you will appear in court for a “scheduling conference.” Your lawyer might request a preliminary hearing at this conference.

In Utah, if you are charged with a class-A misdemeanor or felony, you have a right to a preliminary hearing. At this hearing, the judge will decide if there is enough evidence to order you to stand trial. After your preliminary hearing, you will have a pretrial conference. Your lawyer might ask to set a trial date if your case isn’t resolved at this hearing. It’s common for trials to be set at least two months away to provide time for your lawyer and the prosecutor to prepare for your trial. 

Meet With Your Lawyer

Before trial, you will likely have several meetings with your lawyer to prepare. You will talk with your lawyer about the evidence that will be presented against you, the evidence your lawyer will present in your defense, and other trial strategies.

Your lawyer will also discuss your rights, such as your right to testify in your own defense and your right to remain silent. During these meetings, it’s important to be open and honest with your lawyer so that your lawyer can effectively prepare your defense. 

The Trial

At trial, remember that the judge and jury are watching you. It’s imperative that you are dressed appropriately and that you act professionally. Be sure to ask your lawyer if you have any questions about how you should dress or behave in the courtroom. 


Preparing for trial is a stressful process. You have a lot on the line. Be sure to seek legal guidance from a competent criminal defense attorney as you navigate the legal process. Having the right attorney by your side can seriously impact the outcome of your trial. Make sure you give this process the time and attention it deserves. 

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