The Impact of COVID-19 on Criminal Courts

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every facet of our lives, and court is not immune. Jury trials in all local jurisdictions have been cancelled. After all, you can’t sit a jury without gathering people together and increasing risk of infection.

 

In Travis, Hays, and Williamson counties, all non-essential hearings are being cancelled. Courts are focusing on cases where the defendant is in jail. This is how it should be. We cannot deprive someone of liberty because of extenuating circumstances. Of course, there is the added risk of infection spreading in jails as well, adding to the seriousness of the jail release. Because of increased risk, some people who might otherwise be held pretrial are now being released.

 

If you have court scheduled in the coming weeks, there is a high likelihood that it will be cancelled. Do not rely on this post. Always defer to your attorney if you have one. If you don’t have an attorney yet, call the court coordinator in your assigned court and ask for instruction. For cases that are set for a jury, this might be a good time to see if a favorable plea might be offered.

 

It’s times like these that make it evident that while the criminal courts are important, sometimes they are not the most important thing. We all need to stay safe and follow the guidelines to help prevent infection.

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