The quarantine and closures stemming from the Coronavirus are having a drastic effect on the prosecution and disposition of criminal and legal cases. This article will address How those closures may affect your Criminal Case.
Criminal court cases, from arrest to plea negotiations and jury trials involve crowded spaces. Each of these stages of criminal cases are being addressed in a variety of ways to stop the spread of Coronavirus.
How does the Coronavirus impact arrest and jail inmate populations?
For obvious public safety reasons, the police are not going to stop arresting people. And, the jail obviously houses lots of people within close proximity to each other. But, judges in Travis and Williamson County are granting bonds in cases that they might not otherwise have done so in the past. The idea is to keep the jail population to the smallest size possible to avoid possible contamination. But, while doing so they are balancing public safety concerns. The bottom line is I might be able to get a bond on a case where it otherwise might not have been granted.
On my recent visits to the county jails, I frequently visit inmates, the facilities were being cleaned with disinfectant as I have never seen before. Additionally, the Travis County Jail has stopped allowing in-person visits with limited exceptions. All other visits have to be completed via a secure video conference. So, substantial efforts are being made to protect the inmate population.
How does the Coronavirus affect my criminal court dates?
The Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals have authorized all state courts to modify court settings past typical deadlines through May 8, 2020. For Travis County and Williamson County, this means that all court settings for individuals who are not in custody are being handled remotely. Prosecutors are communicating with defense attorneys via email and phone, and defendants are not required to be in court. If the defendant is in custody, they are still having court dates as usual.
I have a court date coming up. Do I have to Show up?
That depends on the county where you are charged. I would contact an attorney to address your individual situation. But, but the short answer is probably not until after May 9, 2020.
Are jury trials still happening?
All jury trials have been rescheduled until after my 9th in Travis County and Williamson County. Other counties are following suit.
How does the Coronavirus/Covid-19 affect my DWI charge?
Your court settings will likely be delayed. But, other important deadlines will remain the same. For example, you still only have 15 days after your arrest to request a hearing to contest your driver’s license suspension. You must also still comply with all of your bond conditions such as having an ignition interlock device installed in your car.
How does Coronavirus affect my Assault Family Violence charge?
While your court settings might be delayed, you will still have to comply with all protective orders and bond conditions. An example of a typical bond condition would be to stay away from your alleged victim. If you live with that person, you will still be expected to find another place to stay. And, you may be required to have a violence assessment or submit to other treatment. Though, whether or not assessment or treatment providers will be available during this crisis remains to be seen.
What should I do about my criminal case now?
Feel free to contact my office if you have been arrested in Central Texas. I will be working throughout all the court closures and will be available to assist you.