How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Zoey_ JD Your Own Question
Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27457
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
Type Your Criminal Law Question Here...
Zoey_ JD is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Can someone help me decipher a court docket? I have a family

This answer was rated:

Can someone help me decipher a court docket? I have a family member who is currently in jail, they have a case on June 4th in district court but there seem to be two different cases. One is F3 forgery and possession of an instrument of forgery with a date of 5/8/13 and then a separate one for F3 forgery and theft by deception with a date of 5/5/13. Does this mean that they commited two different crimes on different dates? I am unable to communicate with the family member and I live on the other end of the state so I am unable to travel to the facility to speak with them.

Yes, it would appear that your family member has one case with multiple counts in that similar acts were performed on two different occasions.

Forgeries in Utah are classified according to how much money was misappropriated due to the crime. In this case it's a third degree felony, where the monetary total exceeded $1,000 but is under $5,000. A third degree felony has no minimum incarceratory period, by which I mean that your family member could be eligible for probation on this sort of an offense. The maximum possible jail sentence would be 5 years of jail. There could also be a fine of up to $5,000.

If this is your family member's first felony contact with the law, there is a good likelihood that he will be offered a deal which would give him probation. If he is not eligible for probation because of prior offenses, then prison may be a real possibility, but how much of it the prosecutor would request will depend on his criminal history as well as the facts and circumstances of the present case. As indicated, the worst case scenario would be 5 years of prison.

If what he wants to do is negotiate a deal that will keep him out of jail and he is eligible for a public defender, public defenders are normally very quick to size up the worth and the weight of a case and have much experience with plea bargaining. If he wants to fight the charges, public defenders, like private lawyers, come in all kinds: good, bad, or average. You might consider using the money you'd spend on a lawyer to bail him out of jail, and stick with the public defender for a while. Many are excellent attorneys and he may have drawn a good one. If he doesn't get on with his attorney you can always replace the attorney a bit down the road.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

She is currently on unsupervised probation from two other cases in different jurisdictions, and apparently she failed to appear initially on this case so she is being held without bail.


What I am trying to figure out I guess is there are two F3 charges, but only one possesion of instrument of forgery and only one theft- would this mean that she forged two checks at two separate times but only got caught the second time? I am assuming that the theft charge results from her forging one check and actually getting money that time, but not the second time? And what exactly is an instrument of forgery? She is only 22 and has some mental health issues, nothing that would make her incompetent, but her critical thinking skills are definitely missing, hence the bad choices. Also she has been using my address as hers and her mail is showing up at my house

Hi Sharyn,

Thanks for the prompt reply.

It's hard to say exactly what went on here without looking at the court papers. She may have tried to pass a forged check the first time but the bank or check cashing place picked it up and let her go. Initially, she was only charged with the forgery and the possession of the check. On the second date, she has the check and she also commits a fraudulent act. This sort of thing can be accomplished many different ways and for me to guess at what she did would not be helpful to you.

It would appear from what you say that she does not have much of a record but she is at tha poor risk for felony probation. She doesn't keep her court appearances and obligations, and the prosecutor is likely to offer her jail time. You mention, however, that she has mental health issues. The state of Utah has mental health courts. This is a specialty court where they work to get a defendant help for his or her mental health issues while reeducating them as to their criminal behavior at the same time She may be a candidate for something like that, and her lawyer could look into that. This would be a non-incarceratory program, so long as she would do what she is told. The fact that her probation was unsupervised sounds like misdemeanor probation to me. So she'd be eligible for such a program if the prosecutor is willing to take a chance on her.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Okay, thanks. I want to help her if I can but don't want to enable, fine line to walk. It was misdemeanors that she was on probation for. I am assuming that since I wasn't the victim I wouldn't be able to get the police reports. She has a history of lying and from what I have found out in the last few weeks, she is continuing to do so. I am not willing to put up money without knowing all the facts,( if she did do it deliberately then she should do some jail time as a consequence) but I guess those will have to come from her.

Thank you for the information

Hi Sharyn,

You are under no obligation to hire a lawyer. A public defender will know how to handle this. This looks like a likely plea to me. If she can't get a mental health court/probation option, then she'll get a jail offer. In my experience, based on her record and the nature of the crime, they will offer her time that will be closer to a year than to five years.

If she doesn't want the offer, she can potentially spend longer in jail fighting the case than the amount of time she'd have to do if she took a plea, so in my experience she'll likely take the offer as the quickest way out.

I see someone in trouble not able (or not willing) to help herself. I would wait for her to be appointed a lawyer and then I'd talk to that lawyer and get a sense for yourself of whether he or she is on top of the issues and can provide meaningful representation. If you don't like what you hear, then get the lawyer.

Zoey_ JD and other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you