The Covid-19 pandemic has spread around the world like wildfire, upending nearly every aspect of society. Here in Utah, the governor has issued a series of executive orders shutting down non-essential businesses, and Salt Lake County has instituted a stay-at-home policy for all citizens. The state has also banned gatherings of more than 10 people, which forced the court system to react. In late March, the Utah Supreme Court issued an order suspending most in-person court proceedings, including all jury trials. This had led some people to wonder if warrants are still be enforced during this time. Below, our experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys at Overson & Bugden explain the status of warrants during this time and what you should do if dealing with one.
Are Criminal Courts in Salt Lake City Open During Covid-19?
Most criminal courts in Salt Lake County are not operating while the county stay-at-home order is in effect. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. Judges and prosecutors are continuing to conduct hearings regarding issues they believe present a public safety threat, such as domestic violence issues. While all jury trials have been postponed, the court system is using new ways to conduct other types of hearings, including teleconferencing and even using an RV as a mobile courtroom.
Most cases are being rescheduled, and it is likely that you will receive notice in the mail that yours has been. However, if you do not receive such notice you should not take it as a given that you can fail to show up to court with no consequences. The best thing you can do is to contact an experienced Ogden criminal defense attorney like those on the team at Overson & Bugden. We can contact the court and find out the status of your case and whether or not you need to make any appearances, virtual or otherwise.
Bench Warrants During Covid-19
Bench warrants are issued by a judge when someone fails to show up for court, or fails to meet some other obligation imposed by the court such as paying fines and fees. If you fail to show up for court during this pandemic and the judge has not excused you or rescheduled the matter, the judge could issue a bench warrant allowing the police to arrest you at any time. While the police generally do not come and find you at your home or place of work to enforce a bench warrant, they may do so now that they know you are home. Even if they do not, any time you encounter the police, even for a minor traffic stop, the officer will check your warrant status and you will likely be arrested on the spot.
No one wants to live with the threat of being arrested constantly hanging over their head, especially during uncertain times like these. The best thing to do if you think a bench warrant has been issued against you is to contact an experienced Salt Lake City bench warrant attorney like those at Overson & Bugden. We can contact the prosecutor’s office and the staff at the court where the warrant was issued and attempt to negotiate a deal where the warrant is quashed if you turn yourself in and face the judge.
If you are arrested on a bench warrant, you should similarly contact an attorney right away so we can work to get you out of jail as quickly as possible. We understand that people miss court for a variety of understandable reasons, such as an emergency illness. We will make the case to the judge that you do not deserve to have your bail revoked or incur further penalties based on the circumstances of your case.
Arrest Warrants During Covid-19
Although the court system is not working at full capacity, the police are. They are still out making arrests and are patrolling the streets move than ever to ensure that the public health orders put into place are being complied with. If you were being investigated for a crime before the pandemic started, that investigation will continue. When the police believe they have enough evidence to place you under arrest, they will apply remotely for an arrest warrant, and, if one is granted, come to your home to take you into custody. If you commit a new crime during the pandemic, you will be investigated and arrested.
While being arrested is never a pleasant experience, it is particularly unpleasant in the time of a pandemic. Jail are overcrowded and often unsanitary and are not especially conducive to social distancing. Clusters of the virus have been reported in prisons across the country. As judges and prisons struggle to implement the technology required for videoconferencing, you could end up waiting in jail for days or even weeks until you appear before a judge for a bail hearing.
It is vital that you or a loved one contact an experienced Lehi criminal defense attorney like those at Overson & Bugden as soon as you arrested. Our lawyers will work to get you before a judge as quickly as possible. We will work to convince the judge to release you on your own recognizance. If this is not possible, we will ask for non-monetary conditions or minimal bail that you can afford so that financial issues do not delay your release from custody.
If You Are Concerned About Warrants, Call Our Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
You do not want to end behind bars during the time of Covid-19. If you know of outstanding warrants against you, the best thing you can do is work to take care of them before you get caught and arrested. At Overson & Bugden, our St. George criminal defense attorneys have a great deal of experience successfully negotiating the surrender of our clients on bench warrants without them spending time in jail. If you are arrested and waiting for a hearing while incarcerated, we can work to get you out as quickly as possible. Call us today at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation.