In mid-March, communities across the United States experienced a shutdown of nonessential businesses and operations, a move made in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, which has moved through the country like wildfire. Confirmed COVID-19 cases have peaked at more than 5 million nationwide, while plans to reopen and resume business as usual move forward in some states. The coronavirus pandemic has brought uncertainty into almost every aspect of our lives, even in the criminal justice system. Many criminal cases have been backlogged since March, while new cases have been accumulating, leaving many, like you, to wonder about the status of their case. As of early July, Cook County courts were instructed to begin resuming most court operations, with safety protocols put in place. If you have been charged with a crime in Illinois, you should expect to be notified about your modified court proceedings.
Safety Protocols Put into Place
An executive order signed by Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans allowed Illinois courts to resume court operations beginning July 6. However, the order also required the implementation of several health and safety protocols to help contain the spread of coronavirus. These protocols include:
Reducing the number of people entering the courts each day
Not permitting jury trials to take place
Conducting court calls via teleconference or remote means when possible
Requiring all people entering the courthouse to wear face masks or coverings
Staggering in-person court dates by time, date, and floor to minimize the contact people have with one another
Extending the time allowed after a missed first required court appearance to a length of 30 days before a warrant is issued
Allowing bench trials to be held through video conference
Enforcing maximum occupancy numbers set forth by public health agencies
Enforcing social distancing guidelines of at least 6 feet between every person in the courtroom at all times
Virtual Methods to Be Utilized
Within the Circuit Court of Cook County, there are various districts that each have their own presiding district judges. These judges are given the power to use their own discretion to determine what the exact protocols are for their respective districts. This means that factors for deciding which hearings will be conducted via remote means differ in each district. However, it is to be expected that this will include minor court hearings, such as the bail hearing, arraignment, presentation of a jury waiver, and any status hearing.
Contact a Rolling Meadows, IL Criminal Defense Attorney
Our lives have changed immensely in the past five months due to COVID-19, with modifications to many parts of our usual routines. Even in the criminal justice system, the policies and procedures have continually changed as the pandemic has evolved. If you have been charged with any type of criminal offense, you should speak with an Arlington Heights, IL criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law, has over 25 years of experience with assisting clients facing various criminal charges. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 847-253-3400.