What Happens If This Pandemic Suspends My Criminal Case?  

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COVID has caused a lot of chaos in everyday living. The judicial branch has likewise struggled to create a balance between the requirement to expedite and fairly administer criminal proceedings while limiting the crowd in court to alleviate the risk of spreading COVID.

The defendants want their cases to end sooner as pending cases are hampering job searches and reclaiming normalcy in life. The delay that started in 2022, due to COVID continues to trouble through 2022. As a result, many cases have been delayed, and many clients are frustrated at not being able to resolve their ongoing criminal matter promptly.

Besides this pandemic, there could be other factors responsible for delaying or suspending an ongoing criminal case. This article aims to discuss them in detail and help you with a short guide to help you.

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Which Parts of Criminal Cases Get Suspended by Courts?

Various components of criminal proceedings are being suspended in several courts around the United States, including:

  1. Selection of the jury
  2. Jury trials
  3. New criminal trials
  4. Courtroom hearings
  5. Verbal arguments
  6. Entry of new employees into the building
  7. Face-to-face interviews

The Justice Department instructed Chief judges to keep people without a trial. In an emergency, the authorities can detain someone in jail for a long time until the matter gets resolved as normal, it does.

Besides this pandemic, there could be various scenarios where a case might get delayed due to factors like bias, duration of delay, the reason for the delay, and claim of rights.

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The Duration Of Delay

In the US Constitution, there is no clear and firm rule defining how prolonged is too much as a delay. Anyway, eight months is a general rule. Courts would often assume that a delay of this duration has met a defendant’s argument that their right to a speedy trial has been violated.

The Reason For The Delay

The court will always investigate why a trial was postponed. Overcrowding in the courtroom, absence of witnesses, and lab testing delays are all major causes of trial delays. Both parties will consider the benefits and drawbacks of a delay. The court can also consider any continuances granted, as well as when they happened and who sought them. Another element to consider is if either party objected to the continuations.

Assertion Of Rights

When did the defendant file a motion for a speedy trial? This is crucial because a defendant who takes a longer time to exercise their right to a speedy trial will be in a poorer position to do so than someone who expresses their right after seven months. It’s also important to note that a defendant who requests that their case be dismissed before a fast trial isn’t exercising their right in this situation; rather, they’re looking to avoid criminal liability if this happens.

Biases

The court must consider partiality in this case. Was the defendant harmed as a result of the prosecution’s delay? For example, did a witness dies away or migrate before being asked to testify? Was there a lapse in recollection as a result of the delay, rendering witnesses untrustworthy? As a result of the delay, all of this might constitute evidence of bias against the defendant.

How Does This Affect My Criminal Case?

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This may compel you to stay in prison or imprisoned until your trial or appeal is finished. If you’re on probation, you’re probably going to stay on community supervision. The trial may be postponed if you are out on bond and waiting for your trial to begin. On bail, you’ll have to stay in the region.

If the individual is not currently in jail, the case may be postponed (put on hold until a later date). Some courts are using video calls to keep the process moving if the individual is in jail.

What Does This Hold For Me In The Long Run?

Sadly, suspending some courts may cause criminal proceedings to be postponed for months or even years. This has legal consequences because the Sixth Amendment guarantees individuals a “quick” trial “as well as a fair trial.

This timeline is determined by the federal Speedy Trial Act and the statutes of your state. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure further provide that you shall not be subjected to “unnecessary delay.”

Some individuals have the option of foregoing their right to a quick trial. The following are some of the advantages:

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  1. This is intended to give extra time to build a case or gather evidence
  2. Obtain additional time to make an appeal
  3. To buy additional time before severe accusations are brought before a jury.

Your lawyer may suggest that the delays have advantages for you and you can choose to “waive time” and permit the case to progress at a slower pace when the courts restart hearings.

Delayed Case Defenses

If your case is extended, your lawyer may be able to apply fresh defense, such as procedural fairness issues.

These arguments may be removed when jurisdictions cope up to the pandemic and amend their criminal procedure regulations.

What Should I Do If My Criminal Case Is Set to Be Delayed?

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If your case is put on hold, your attorney or the local court should contact you straight away. They should provide you with specific directions on how to proceed. Talking about specifically this pandemic, as we don’t know when it will end, predicting when trials will restart will be impossible for most courts.

It’s scary to be in jail for weeks while awaiting a trial. There are a lot of unanswered questions in this case, and your rights might be compromised.

Your lawyer will be able to assist you with any queries you may have. It is more crucial than ever to obtain an attorney for a criminal case if you do not already have one. Talk to an experienced lawyer from reputable law firms like New Mexico Criminal Law Offices without any delay. Even in times of national difficulty, you have rights, and those rights must be safeguarded.

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