California, and especially the East Bay, has had one of the strongest responses to COVID-19 in the country. People were limited from non-essential travel, businesses closed, and large gatherings were prohibited. However, the police were still out arresting anyone they suspected of committing a crime.
With the coronavirus pandemic continuing, many of those arrested are unsure how to deal with the arrest, when their court case will come up, and if they have to appear in person. If you were arrested in the past couple of months during the COVID-19 outbreak, talk to your East Bay criminal defense lawyer about your rights.
Shelter in Place Orders and the Criminal Court Process
Before the coronavirus pandemic, the standard process involved arrest, booking, arraignment, then the criminal trial. All this changed after COVID-19 closed the courts to public access. Individuals were still arrested, and may have been released on their own recognizance to show up to the arraignment.
Others arrested on felony charges generally had to be arraigned within 48 hours but the courts extended the time limit to 7 days, leaving many people sitting in jail unnecessarily. The court also extended statutory deadlines for preliminary hearings, arraignments, and last-day trials in criminal proceedings.
The deadline to hold criminal trials was extended 90 days (first a 60-day extension then an additional 30-day extension).
The courts were also urged to hold trials through remote technology, including video or phone meetings. The courts did allow for limited in-person court appearances and some criminal trials, prioritizing arraignments and preliminary hearings for in-custody defendants.
Alameda County Court System and COVID-19
Alameda County has been under shelter in place orders since March 16, 2020. The most recent extension went into effect on May 18, 2020, and will remain in effect until it is rescinded, superseded, or amended.
The Superior Court of California, County of Alameda has changed access to the court in response to COVID-19. On June 1, 2020, the emergency orders were extended through June 27, 2020.
Under the order, the courts are physically closed to the public, with some exceptions, including certain criminal hearings. The orders also “extend the deadline for holding criminal jury trials by up to 30 days for cases where the “speedy trial” deadline would otherwise fall between June 15 and July 15, 2020.”
Contra Costa County Court System Reopening
In Contra Costa County, all court locations reopened to the public at 8:00 a.m. on May 26, 2020. However, there are a number of restrictions to coming to court, including:
- No one who is sick or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will be permitted to enter any court facility.
- You must wear a mask or face covering to enter any court facility and at all times while inside.
- Anyone entering the court facility will have their temperatures taken. Individuals with a temperature of 100 degrees or higher will be denied entry.
- Courts are following social distancing requirements.
East Bay Criminal Defense Attorney Available During COVID-19
If you were arrested and are waiting for notice of your court appearance, talk to your East Bay criminal defense lawyer about making sure you find out about the hearings. Do not risk a failure to appear warrant if you don't get notice of the court appearance. Contact attorney Lynn Gorelick at 510-785-1444 or 925-847-3006.