The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in most legal proceedings being suspended for its duration, and this is as true for the criminal courts as it is for everything else. Due to the coronavirus, most criminal court proceedings have been suspended, while others are now being conducted remotely through video conferencing and other telecommunications methods. This has had a dramatic impact on how criminal defendants can protect their rights during the pandemic.
The coronavirus is the single greatest health crisis facing America right now, with courts across the country closing to anything except “essential” proceedings. While this includes arraignments and bail hearings for people charged with crimes, it doesn’t include many of the procedural hearings that are an integral part of legally enforcing their rights. As a result, many defendants are now being locked in jail without any chance of moving their case forward until the pandemic has passed, whenever that happens.
There are additional issues as well. Jails and prisons have proved to be breeding grounds for the coronavirus, with the disease spreading rapidly among both the incarcerated and prison staff alike. While some defendants who are considered particularly vulnerable have been permitted to leave early, or have been reassigned to house arrest, in order to protect their health, most others are stuck where they are. For example, nearly 300 inmates and more than 300 corrections officers had become ill at Rikers’ Island alone by early April.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a criminal offense, you will need legal counsel to help you preserve your rights and work to get the best possible outcome for your matter. A New York criminal defense lawyer, who is experienced in handling criminal cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you or your loved one has been arrested, contact the Suffolk County criminal defense attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.