How the Coronavirus or Covid-19 Crisis Can Affect Your Case
People have been watching various news outlets for the near constant updates regarding the state of the Coronavirus pandemic. One concern for many is how it might affect their pending criminal case.
For those who are facing criminal charges and are in custody but have NOT been convicted, many courts are still operating on a limited basis to make sure that inmates are considered for bond or possible signature bonds for lower level offenses. Many jails are concerned about outbreaks within their populations, which can be a factor in being released. Furthermore, those persons in jail for violation of probation might be able to negotiate a resolution through their attorney to be released and reinstated on probation, depending on the nature of the violation, any prior violations, and the original charges themselves. Every court and every case is different, so do not assume that this crisis means that the doors of all jails will be opened for mass release.
For criminal cases that do not involve someone in custody, there will be delay. No one is holding jury trials at this time. Most cases are being pushed back a month or two, but that could be longer, depending on the length of the crisis. It may impact the availability of witnesses at trial in the future, and it may create a backlog of cases that could lead to a more favorable resolution for some. But some prosecutors might think that defendants and their attorneys will try to use this crisis to their advantage and resist any consideration of change in circumstance.
Regarding legal deadlines, courts have "tolled" or temporarily stopped, the deadline for certain filings, such as requesting a statutory speedy trial demand, responding to discovery requests, or appealing an order.
For those who are on probation or in a pre-trial diversion program, you might face difficulty in being able to pay fines/fees, complete community service hours, or attend anger management classes or counseling sessions. Given the extraordinary circumstances, I believe most probation officers and diversion programs will extend the time frame to complete requirements, or possibly reduce the number of hours required for those that have been on track in their program.
If you have questions about how your case could be impacted by this pandemic, contact Kyle Jarzmik.