As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads each day, many courtrooms are closing their doors to the public and postponing criminal cases. This is a situation that our country has not seen since the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, so many legal professionals and courts are making emergency plans as they go.
During this time, it is very likely your case will face delays somewhere along the criminal justice process.
Many courts across the United States are suspending elements to criminal cases, which includes: 1) Jury selection; 2) Jury duty; 3) Jury trials; 4) New criminal trials; 5) Court hearings; 6) Oral arguments; 7) Non-employees entering the building and 8) In-person interviews.
The Justice Department has also asked for chief judges to detain people without trial. In emergency situations, this power would let them keep a person in jail indefinitely until the case could proceed as usual. Each court has implemented different policies and procedures so it is important that you reach out to your criminal defense lawyer to find out when your court date has been rescheduled for. .
Many defendants may wonder what this may mean for their criminal case? It is possible for a defendant to remain in prison or jail until your trial or appeal can take place. If you are on probation, then you will likely stay on probation. If you are out on bail and awaiting your trial to start, then the trial may be postponed. You will need to remain in the area on bail.
Criminal matters may be adjourned (stopped until later notice) if the person is not already in custody. If the person is in custody, some courts are using video calls to keep the process moving.
Unfortunately, closing some courts may push criminal cases back from weeks to years. This has further legal repercussions because the Sixth Amendment promises citizens a “speedy” and fair trial.
The federal Speedy Trial Act and your state’s laws determine what this timeframe is. There are also laws in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure stating that you should not face “unnecessary delay.”
Some people can waive their right to a speedy trial. The advantages of this are: 1) To give your side more time to develop the case or find evidence; 2) To get more time for an appeal and 3) To have more time before serious charges go to a jury.
Your attorney may advise you to take advantage of the delays. When the courts resume cases, you can choose to “waive time” and allow the case to move at a slower pace.
If your case is delayed, your attorney may have new defenses to use, such as due process arguments.
However, as states catch up to the pandemic and change their criminal process rules, these defenses could be taken away.
If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal LawyerSeattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.