Do You Have to Go to Salt Lake County Criminal Court During Coronavirus?
The arrival of the coronavirus (COVID-19) to the United States has caused extreme concern amongst the general population. Unfortunately, this virus has become a significant threat to our safety and freedom. For this reason, the criminal justice system has been forced to implement a new set of rules that might affect existing cases. As a defendant, you may wonder how your case will be affected during the pandemic. Our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer at the law offices of Overson Law, PLLC, invite you to keep reading as we discuss whether you need to go to Salt Lake County criminal court during coronavirus.
Going to Salt Lake County Court During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The emergency caused by coronavirus has led to the implementation of safety measures such as social distancing, self-quarantining, and other steps to prevent the spread of the disease. This delicate situation has forced Utah courts to enact safety protocols to prevent further infection. Salt Lake County Court has rules in place during the COVID pandemic that might mean you do not need to appear physically in court, but which might still allow you to continue with your case.
Utah’s Stay at Home Order
Recently, the Governor of Utah issued a “stay at home” directive. This order requires all individuals to remain in their residences at all times. The mandate recognizes specific needs that may require an individual to go out to do things such as grocery shopping. Unless you have an “essential” need to go out, you must remain in your home.
Furthermore, any person found in violation of the governor’s proclamation can be found guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. In other words, you risk spending up to six months in jail and paying a steep fine. Under such circumstances, all individuals with pending court hearings may wonder what will happen with their cases or whether they will be risking arrest by showing up to court.
State Court Changes During Coronavirus
The state of Utah released an order known as the “Utah Pandemic Order.” This order instructs courts to remain accessible to the public and conduct all hearings that are deemed necessary due to specific, “exigent” circumstances. Examples of exigent circumstances include domestic violence charges in Salt Lake City, certain DUI or impaired driving cases, cases involving public safety or health concerns, and violations of the governor’s “stay at home” order.
According to Utah’s Pandemic Order, Salt Lake County Court will remain open and will keep receiving filings from individuals. They are also available to take your calls, e-mails, and faxes. Public access to the court will use a “Mobile Command Center” close to the court. Hearings for in-custody defendants scheduled between March 16, 2020, and June 1, 2020, will get a schedule from the court to continue their hearings via video conference instead of in-person hearings.
Those who are not under custody but received a citation between March 16 and June 1, 2020, must contact the court within seven days to schedule their hearing. This is mandatory, and non-compliance can result in your arrest.
However, if you are experiencing health issues related to COVID-19 and have a criminal case pending with the court, your lawyer can use resources to keep you compliant with the court’s orders. For instance, your criminal defense attorney can file a “plea by affidavit” in your name.
A plea by affidavit is a way a defendant can present their statements with the court via mail if the court finds appearing according to their schedule creates a hardship for the defendant. According to Utah’s Pandemic Order, lawyers can make liberal use of this tool between March 16, 2020, and June 1, 2020. Talk to a lawyer about how this can help move your case along.
Is My Salt Lake County Court Hearing Cancelled Due to Coronavirus in SLC?
Salt Lake City – as mentioned above – will remain open to provide court services to the public following the rules in Utah’s Pandemic Order. The courts will try to accommodate as many hearings as possible during the pandemic.
As a defendant, you are called to make arrangements through your criminal defense attorney and schedule a teleconference hearing. This is required and does not allow exceptions. Failing to comply with this requirement can lead to a warrant for your arrest in Salt Lake City. Additionally – and depending on the circumstances of your case – your driver’s license could be suspended.
You may wonder whether your case will continue with the court as scheduled. According to Utah’s Justice Courts, all trials by jury or bench are going ahead as scheduled, as are small claims. This means anyone facing prosecution must appear before the court following existing rules.
Do I Need a Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Lawyer During COVID-19?
The coronavirus pandemic has generated confusion for the general public. This is especially true for those who are facing serious criminal charges such as aggravated assault and hit and run charges in Salt Lake City. Despite the severity of the situation, it is essential to take a couple of facts into account:
First, if you were arrested and charged with a crime, the court will not drop your charges because of the pandemic. As stated before, the courts have made adjustments to their itinerary to accommodate any pending hearings. This means you must comply with any court orders during this time.
Second, you need to make sure to be proactive with your case. The criminal justice system has been slowing down due to a large number of pending cases. This may require you to contact the Salt Lake City court to ask for any instructions you may need to follow during this time. All of these matters can be handled by a Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney.
Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Lawyer Offering Free Consultations During Coronavirus
If you or a loved one was arrested and charged with a crime in Salt Lake City during coronavirus, there is no time to waste. There are new guidelines to follow during this challenging time, and every second counts. Our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer at Overson Law, PLLC can help you with your criminal case during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will work tirelessly to help you understand your situation and know what to expect as your case moves forward. To learn more about your case in a free, confidential consultation, call our law offices today at (801) 758-2287.