As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I handle questions and concerns from former, current, and potential clients on a regular basis. I do my best to answer everything I can pertaining to Georgia Criminal Law as I know the very nature of the criminal justice system can be confusing.
With the international public health crisis as a result from COVID-19, many people are contacting me regarding the status of their cases, and how each judicial system will handle delays and holds. In today's post, I will explain what has been declared by the State of Georgia has to how the judicial system will be handling things moving forward.
The Honorable Harold D. Melton, the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, has issued a statewide judicial emergency order which goes through April 13. Therefore, until April 14, courts across the state of Georgia have reported that they will only conduct the following essential hearings: jail calendars, probation revocations of accused persons in custody and bond reviews. All other court appearances will be rescheduled.
To view the order declaring statewide judicial emergency, click here.
No one truly knows how to handle a time period quite like this. It is uncharted territory for everyone - including those who specialize in Georgia criminal law.
With that in mind, it is very important that you stay in contact with your Georgia Criminal Attorney regarding your case as each stage of your case is subject to change. As of right now, however, it appears that filing declines will go on hold as well as statute of limitations. It also appears that pretrial conferences, motions hearings, and trials will be delayed.
Superior Court Judges will be holding court at the jail to see if people can be released immediately. It is also possible that bond amounts will be lowered, and that sheriffs will try to convince bonding companies to lower their fees. Arraignments will also most likely be rescheduled at this time and postponed to a later date.
However, it is unlikely that there will be any delay in serious felony cases in Superior Court. It is also unlikely that there will be any delay in magistrate bond hearings. Jury trials are likely to be continued as will grand juries and indictments. Most of the time, cases where defendants are in custody and wish to have a bond hearing, enter a plea and will get out of jail, cases where public safety requires a hearing, and temporary protective orders are all considered as essential.
It should be mentioned as well that there is some discretion based on county or municipality as to what constitutes an essential hearing. This is where staying in contact with your attorney comes into the utmost importance. The goal of all the players within the world of criminal law is to follow the order set by Justice Melton ini order to minimize the risk of the spread of COVID-19. Again, there is discretion here, so your attorney will be in contact with the judge in the jurisdiction in which your case is being heard so as to update you properly and timely regarding your case.
In times like these, the Criminal Defense Bar and Georgia Prosecutors will work together to make sure that people receive essential legal services in the interest of justice.
Be safe, everyone, and remember to spend time with the ones you love. And as always, if you have any questions or need representation, call our offices at any time.