The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to challenge the Massachusetts Court system, forcing the Supreme Judicial Court to issue their fourth Order regarding the closure of courthouses throughout the Commonwealth.
This Order, which was issued on April 27, 2020 makes the following changes:
- All trial courts will be closed to the public, including defendants, from March 16, 2020 through May 29, 2020. While prior orders from the SJC included exceptions to this for emergency hearings that cannot be conducted through video or telephone, now all emergency matters will be conducted by video or telephone. This includes bail hearings.
- All jury trials will be cancelled from March 16, 2020 through July 3, 2020.
- All non-custody cases that were scheduled for a date between March 16, 2020 and May 31, 2020 will be continued until after June 1, 2020. The exception being all jury trials that were scheduled for a date between March 16, 2020 and July 3, 2020 will be continued until after July 6, 2020.
These rules will affect some cases differently, but for most people that have ongoing cases, it means one thing: you will not have court until at least June 1, 2020. So far each court has been choosing new dates in different ways, but it is important to reach out to your attorney to see how they will get your new date.
These rules also will affect people that get arrested. As always, if you have been arrested after court hours, a clerk will review your case and set a bail – often $40.00. You will then be told when to report to court to see a judge. Usually you would have to be in court on the next business day, however, now you can expect to get an arraignment date sometime in May or June. If this does not happen you may have a telephone arraignment while at the police station, and then if you are released on bail, you will get a court date in May or June.
Due to the lengthy period between an arrest and a court date, it may seem like its ok to hold off on calling an attorney about your case. However, now more than ever it is important to call an attorney right away. Because you won’t be in court, important evidence for your defense could be destroyed. An attorney will be able to review your case and send notices to preserve the evidence that will help your case.
What to do if you have been charged with a crime in Massachusetts
If you have been charged with a crime, call Attorney James G. DeGiacomo today to schedule a free consultation. He will be able to review your case and ensure that important evidence for your defense is not lost. Attorney DeGiacomo is also available for phone, Skype, or FaceTime meetings.