How does the COVID-19 Pandemic Affect my Criminal Case?

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting all of our lives. Schools and businesses are closed across the country, and most of us are not venturing far from our homes. While Kentucky courts, both state and federal, have been severely impacted, they must remain open to those who have been arrested and are entitled to due process under the Kentucky and United States Constitutions.

To address this crisis, the Kentucky Supreme Court entered a series of administrative orders to ensure the public continues to enjoy access to the courts while also enforcing social distancing to protect the health of the court, its staff, inmates, and the general public. However, if you or a family member have recently been arrested, you need to know how this crisis affects you. This article seeks to answer your questions.

If someone is arrested, will they sill have an arraignment?

The answer depends upon whether the person is in custody. The Kentucky Supreme Court’s most recent amended order cancels all civil and criminal dockets except “emergency and time-sensitive matters,” including “in-custody arraignments.” If you are currently out on bail and awaiting a court date or trial, you should contact your attorney, or the local circuit clerk’s office, and ask them about your next court appearance.

If I am in custody, may I seek relief due to the Coronavirus pandemic?

The answer is possibly. State and local governments, as well as courts, recognize that the Coronavirus poses a serious threat to our inmate population. In both state and federal courts, those being held pending trial may request that the court reexamine their detention, and many attorneys are arguing the threat posed by the Coronavirus provides grounds for their clients’ release or for a modification of their release conditions, especially where their clients are first-time or non-violent offenders.

What if I have a trial date for my criminal case?

Every defendant has a right to a speedy trial. However, the Kentucky Supreme Court’s most recent amended order encourages all parties to reschedule any trials scheduled between March 16 and April 24th. You should contact your attorney or local circuit court clerk’s office if you have any questions about your trial date.

What if I have a speeding ticket or if I need to pay a fine or court cost by a certain date?

The Kentucky Supreme Court’s most recent amended order continues all court dockets for paying fines and court costs for 60 days. You should call your attorney or your local circuit court clerk’s office if you have any questions about paying your fine.

Gess Mattingly & Atchison, PSC remains open and ready to serve its clients during this crisis. Please contact us at (859) 252-9000 if you need assistance.

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