Lehi, UT asked in Criminal Law for Utah

Q: Is it advisable to bring my paper to read my "testimony" off of? Or does that make for irrate judges?

This is for a second degree felony drug charge, I was offered a third degree felony and they would take off the DUI. i am shooting for a Class A misdemeanor with the DUI. I am a freelance writer, the "letter" is very proper in manner, persuasive yet honest. Court makes me nervous at times which causes my mind to freeze. How would I be seen if I were to read it off a paper I have in front of me on the stand?

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4 Lawyer Answers

Gary Kollin

Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL

A: You have a lawyer. This is exactly the thing you should be discussing with your lawyer instead some unknown attorney on the internet who especially cannot review what you wrote

Brent J Huff and Mr Aric M Cramer Sr. agree with this answer

Mike Branum

Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Saint George, UT
  • Licensed in Utah

A: Depending on your county here in Utah, having a discussion with your lawyer (if you have a public defender) may be nearly an impossibility (Mr. Kollin would probably be shocked at how counties outside the Salt Lake area provide for indigent defense). If you are paying an attorney, I agree with Mr. Kollin, you should have a discussion prior to any court appearance to prepare.

That being said, you will only "testify" if you plead not guilty and have a trial. You will not be allowed to read a statement from the stand during trial. You will be asked questions by your attorney and the prosecutor. You will be expected to respond to the questions, not read a statement. If you are negotiating a plea offer, that is done with the prosecutor not the judge. Once you are standing in open court you will either be accepting a plea or testifying at trial. Written statements are allowed during sentencing, but sentencing occurs either after entry of a plea agreement or after a trial has been held. If you accept a plea and wish to read your statement prior to the judge sentencing you, you may be allowed to do so. I do not, however, see how your statement can provide any assistance in reducing the felony to a misdemeanor unless you can convince the prosecutor to read it and it is persuasive enough to get them to make you a better offer.

Mr Aric M Cramer Sr. agrees with this answer

Brent J Huff

Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • SLC, UT
  • Licensed in Utah

A: If you are trying to get a better offer, it is the prosecutor rather than the Judge who you must convince. Thus, reading a letter in court is unlikely to be the best way to persuade the prosecutor. I generally advise clients to not talk, send letters, or otherwise communicate with the prosecutor or judge. Basically, that is out job and we are better at it. When we advocate for someone else, it is almost always more effective than when the person advocates for themselves. The same words or information coming from someone other than a defendant tends to be more persuasive to a prosecutor. Prosecutors tend to view statements from a defendant as self-serving and unreliable. However, the same information or statements coming from an officer of the court, your attorney, usually carry more weight with a prosecutor. This is especially true if the attorney enjoys a good relationship with the prosecutor such that the prosecutor tends to trust the attorney's representations about a client.

Mr Aric M Cramer Sr. agrees with this answer

Mr Aric M Cramer Sr.

PREMIUM
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • St. George, UT
  • Licensed in Utah

A: You need to check with your attorney. Sounds like a bad idea from here.

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