If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense in Massachusetts, and your case is currently pending, then yes, the current coronavirus or Covid-19 situation is definitely going to impact the timeline and management of your case.  It’s important that you understand how this pandemic has impacted the Trial Courts throughout Massachusetts.  What follows is a brief breakdown of how the courts in Massachusetts are handling this crisis, as of today’s date:

On March 17, 2020 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a standing order closing all courts for all non-emergency matters until at least April 6, 2020.  That guide can be found by clicking here.

From March 17 to April 6 2020:

  • For defendants who are not being held in custody, most criminal matters that were scheduled through May 1, 2020 have been continued to a date no earlier than May 4, 2020.
  • Additionally, all jury trials that were scheduled through April 17, 2020 have been rescheduled to no earlier than April 21, 2020.
  • Clerks’ offices are open on a limited basis for emergency matters only until at least April 6, 2020. However, our office can communicate with clerks’ offices to follow up on the status of your case (see end of this post, below).
  • Arraignments for persons who have been arrested and held in custody will not be conducted in court, but will be done via phone or video conferencing. For defendants who have been released on bail, the Court will provide those persons with a future date to appear for an in-person arraignment.
  • Persons who have been summoned via mail to arraignments on criminal charges shall be continued to a future date.
  • All pretrial hearings, pretrial motions and case reviews shall be continued to a future date.
  • All evidentiary hearings (hearing sot determine what evidence shall be admissible) shall also be continued.
  • All bench trials and jury trials shall be continued to a future date.
  • Probation violation hearings, where the Commonwealth is seeking detention for persons arrested on a either a warrant or for a new crime shall be held via phone or video conferencing
  • A person seeking to post bail for a person held in custody is permitted to enter the courthouse
  • A person who is ordered by the Court to be monitored with a SCRAM device is permitted to enter the courthouse for initial set up.

From April 6, 2020 through May 1, 2020:

  • Arraignments for persons being held in custody will be conducted as normal or via video conferencing.
  • Arraignments for new arrests where the person is released on bail will be conducted as normal unless the Court, in its discretion, issues a later arraignment date.
  • Summons arraignments on criminal complaints shall be continued.
  • All bench trials, evidentiary motions, dangerousness hearings, and guilty pleas or admissions to sufficient facts for a person in custody may be held in court as scheduled.
  • Default/warrant removals should be processed in the normal course.
  • Motions to revoke bail or conditions of release will be conducted as normal, including by videoconference when the person is in custody.
  • Probation violation hearings may be scheduled in the normal course or, if previously scheduled, conducted in court as scheduled, except that a probation violation hearing for a person in custody shall be conducted by videoconference.

It’s important to note:  While the courts are closed to the general public during the above dates, attorneys are authorized to enter and conduct non-emergency administrative matters, as required.  Our office maintains full communications with all District court and Superior Court Clerks’ offices, and can manage any new and/or existing cases that we are representing clients on.  We can keep all of our clients up to date on the status and scheduling of their cases, so, there is no need to worry about that.  If you have a case with us or need an attorney to represent you on a criminal law matter that has recently developed, do not hesitate to call us at the phone numbers on this page, or send us a contact form by clicking here.

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