Prosecutor Policies

Grand County Attorney

Criminal Prosecution Policies


Pursuant to 63M-7-216 of Utah Code Annotated, the following policies and standards shall guide the use of prosecutorial discretion within the Grand County Attorney’s Office and provide a framework for interactions with courts, victims, witnesses, defendants, defense attorneys, law enforcement agencies, and other stakeholders in the criminal justice system.


  1. General Application.  The prosecutor’s office should exercise sound discretion and independent judgment in the performance of the prosecution function. Although there are victims, fact scenarios, and suspects presented to the prosecutor, which are similar in nature, the prosecution function remains extremely dependent on the specific and unique facts of each victim of crime, criminal episode, and criminal defendant presented to an individual prosecutor. By its very nature, this type of work should not be subject to overly strict or restrictive policies but should instead be governed by general principles of fairness, due process, justice, and the specific requirements that are outlined in the Constitution and laws of the United States and the state of Utah. These policies should not be construed as requiring strict compliance. Instead, these policies are aspirational or describe “best practices,” and are not intended to serve as the basis for the imposition of professional discipline, to create substantive or procedural rights for accused or convicted persons, to create a standard of care for civil liability, or to serve as a predicate for a motion to suppress evidence or dismiss a charge. These policies attempt to guide the behavior of the prosecutor who has a great deal of discretion in serving the public and seeking justice.



  1. Screening and Filing Charges.  The screening process begins when a case is referred to this office by a law enforcement agency.  Referral of a case may be by formal submission and request for warrant/summons or by the filing of a probable cause statement after a warrantless arrest.  The screening process culminates with one of the following:


    1. The filing of criminal charges;
    2. Return of the case to the law enforcement agency for additional investigation; 
    3. Entry into a pre-filing diversion agreement; or
    4. Declination of prosecution.


Charges should only be filed and maintained if the prosecutor reasonably believes that the charges are supported by probable cause, that admissible evidence will be sufficient to support a reasonable likelihood of successful prosecution, and that the charges are in the interest of justice.


  1. Plea Bargains.  A negotiated disposition agreement, or plea bargain, is one of the Prosecutor’s most efficient tools in effecting justice.  In addition, the limited resources of the Prosecutors Office, the Courts, and law enforcement agencies dictate that most cases will be resolved by a negotiated disposition agreement or plea bargain.  Disposition agreements may take the form of an agreement for a guilty plea, the reduction in the level of offense whether by amending the charges or under the processes listed in Utah Code §§77-2-1.2 or 76-3-402, partial dismissal, a plea in abeyance agreement that results in a dismissal or a reduction in charges, diversion agreements, sentencing agreements, or a combination of the these.  Diversion agreements should only be used in limited circumstances where no other just result can be accomplished.


In using a disposition agreement, the Prosecutor should seek a just resolution for victims of crime, the defendant, any witnesses, and the community.  The prosecutor should be open, at every stage of a criminal matter, to discussions with defense counsel concerning a negotiated disposition agreement.   A prosecutor should not engage in disposition discussions directly with a represented defendant, except with defense counsel's approval.  Where a defendant has properly waived counsel, the prosecutor may engage in disposition discussions with the defendant and should make and preserve a record of such discussions.


The prosecutor should not enter into a disposition agreement before having information sufficient to assess the defendant’s actual culpability.  The prosecutor should consider the collateral consequences of a conviction before entering into a disposition agreement.  When working towards a negotiated disposition agreement, the prosecutor should consider the same factors listed under Section II for determining whether to pursue charges and should not be influenced by the inappropriate factors outlined in Section II.  Additionally, the prosecutor should specifically consider the following:


    1. Severity and/or notoriety of the crime;
    2. Express desires of victims;
    3. Safety of victims, witnesses, and the community;
    4. Strength of admissible inculpatory and exculpatory evidence;
    5. Rehabilitation opportunities for defendant;
    6. Defendant’s cooperation; 
    7. Defendant’s criminal history; 
    8. Extent of defendant’s participation in the charged crimes;


  1. Sentencing Recommendations.  This office will seek to ensure fair and informed sentences. Prosecutors will make sentencing recommendations based on consideration of a variety of factors, including, but not limited to:


    1. Safety of victims, witnesses, and the community;
    2. Defendant’s criminal history;
    3. Defendant’s prior probation/parole history;
    4. Victim input and the need for restitution; and
    5. Any aggravating or mitigating facts or circumstances.


  1. Discovery Practices.  This office will comply with Rule 16 of the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure and all other applicable statutes and rules by providing evidence in its possession or in the possession of law enforcement to defendants/defense counsel in a timely fashion.  This office has an open file policy and recognizes its special responsibility to provide exculpatory evidence, including evidence that may be used to impeach state witnesses, as an affirmative discovery obligation.


  1. Prosecution of Juveniles. This office will work closely with the juvenile probation office to determine whether delinquent acts committed by juveniles should be resolved by nonjudicial adjustment or through formal adjudication.  These determinations will take into account the standards for screening outlined in Paragraph II above.  In determining whether to prosecute a juvenile as an adult for a “qualifying offense” as defined by Section 78A-6-703.1 of Utah Code Annotated, this office will consider factors that may include, without limitation, the following:


    1. The best interests of the juvenile offender;
    2. The safety of victims, witnesses, and the community;
    3. The seriousness of the offense;
    4. Whether the offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated, or willful manner;
    5. The history and background of the juvenile offender; and
    6. The likelihood of rehabilitation and the availability of rehabilitation and treatment resources.  


  1. Collection of Fines and Fees.  This office does not collect fines or fees.  We may recommend a fine or fee as a condition of probation in some cases.  The imposition and collection of fines and fees, however, is the prerogative of the courts. This office will file and prosecute orders to show cause when necessary to assist with the enforcement of court-ordered fines and fees.


  1. Asset Forfeiture.  This office will only seek the forfeiture of property in criminal cases where the prosecutor is able to prove that the property was used to commit a crime or is the proceeds from the commission of a crime as set forth in Utah Code § 24-4-101 et al. The forfeiture should take place through the criminal case unless the following apply:

    1. The property that qualifies for forfeiture is owned by an individual who is not being charged with a crime and can only have due process through the civil asset forfeiture process;
    2. The owner of the property cannot be identified; or
    3. There is some significant delay in filing of criminal charges and the initiation of civil asset forfeiture is necessary to provide due process to the owner of the property.
  1. Services for Victims of Crimes.  This office recognizes its responsibility to uphold the rights of victims of crimes under Article 1, Section 28 of the Utah Constitution and Chapters 37, 38, and 38a of Title 77 of Utah Code Annotated. Grand County has partnered with Moab City to create the Victim Assistance Unit, who shall  work closely with the victims to have meaningful  participation in the criminal case  and to make appropriate referrals and applications to the Utah Office for Victims of Crimes for reparations and counseling.  The Victim Assistance Unit may offer or provide other local and statewide resources for victims.


  1. Diversion.  Diversion agreements should only be used in limited circumstances where no other just result can be accomplished and where not prohibited by statute. 


  1. Restorative Justice Programs.  This office is a collaborative partner in the Grand County Drug Court Program, which was created in an effort to reduce substance abuse and related crime by offenders. This office works in partnership with the court, defense counsel, corrections, and substance abuse treatment services to provide services to qualifying defendants who struggle with addiction. The drug court program allows defendants to receive treatment while being supervised by the court and treatment team, with the goal of reducing or eliminating jail and/or prison sentences and having their charges dismissed or reduced upon successful completion of the program.