New York is the epicenter of the pandemic; we’ve been hit harder than just about anyone else, and it has tremendously affected how attorneys and the courts operate. Just about every law office in Queens is closed for safety. I am continuing to operate, but not from the office. All calls to the office are being transferred to my cell phone, and I am doing my best to pick up right away, or call back within the hour.
Unfortunately, people are still being arrested and charged with crimes, which means attorneys are still in demand. However, the courts are only handling emergency matters, so if a person is arrested for a relatively non-serious crime, they are likely to be given a desk appearance ticket and told to return at a much later date. If a person is arrested on a charge for which a desk appearance ticket cannot be given, then the case will be arraigned before a judge, and the defendant will probably be brought to court. When they get to court, there will not be a judge, district attorney, or a defense attorney there, because everyone is working remotely and appearing via video. The defense attorney will be visible on screen, and if necessary, defendants can confer privately by video with their attorney.
If a defendant is deemed particularly at risk of contracting COVID-19, has been exposed to someone who has had it, or is showing signs of the virus, then they will be arraigned remotely. Most people who have been charged with a relatively non-serious crime will be released without bail. If a defendant is held in custody, their case will be adjourned for up to 30 days; if a defendant is released, they will be told to return about 90 days later.
Should I Wait To Hire A Criminal Defense Attorney Until Everything Returns To Normal, Or Do I Need To Hire A Criminal Defense Attorney Now?
It’s best to hire an attorney as soon as possible. Not only will this provide the defendant with peace of mind, but it will also allow the attorney to initiate an investigation, contact witnesses sooner rather than later, and complete many other preparatory steps in order to get ahead of the district attorney. If a defendant is being held in custody, then it is extremely important that they have an attorney for the arraignment, because that will determine whether they stay in jail or get released. An experienced private criminal defense attorney is likely to be much more effective in arguing for a defendant’s release than a court-appointed attorney.
For more information on Criminal Defense, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (718) 793-5700 today.