The prospect of being arrested is always a scary one, but it has become even scarier during the current Covid-19 pandemic. The thought of spending time in a crowded jail where the virus could be running rampant when we are supposed to be social distancing for our safety and the safety of other is terrifying. Some people may be confused, however, by the announcement of court closures and delays in cases because of the pandemic. You may not know whether the police are enforcing bench warrants or arrest warrants during the crisis. Below, our experienced Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers explain what is going on with the courts and what you should do if you are arrested or learn of a warrant for your arrest during this time.
Atlantic City Court Closures During Covid-19
In accordance with statewide guidelines issues by the New Jersey Supreme Court, the Atlantic City municipal court has suspended all in-person proceedings from March 16th until at least April 17th. Some motion hearings, case update conferences, and even plea deals may be able to take place over the phone or through videoconference. If you have a municipal court date during this time, you should receive a notice in the mall rescheduling it or postponing it until further notice. If you do not, do not take this as a sign that you can just ignore your court date. Get in touch with a criminal defense lawyer right away who can contact the local prosecutor and help work out the status of your case.
All superior courts in the state have also suspended in-person hearings with limited exceptions for emergent matters that could threaten public safety or hearing related to those individuals being held in detention. There are no jury trial being held throughout the state, so if you had one scheduled you should have received a notice of rescheduling. Again, it is best to contact your criminal defense attorney to find out how the prosecutor is handling your case and whether any upcoming court dates will be postponed or changed to videoconferences.
Bench Warrants in Atlantic City During Covid-19
Due to the closing of the courts and the rescheduling of most court dates, it is unlikely that bench warrants for failure to appear will be issued during this time. However, bench warrants can be issued not only for failing to appear for failing to pay court fines, child support, and other situations. It is entirely possible that a judge might issue such a warrant remotely if you fail to make payments or meet some other obligation. Everything is uncertain right now and the only way you can ensure this is by having an experienced criminal defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych reach out to the court and prosecutor to ensure that the case is not proceeding as scheduled and ask for something in writing to this effect.
People with bench warrants that have already been issued against them face a different situation. A bench warrant means that you can be arrested at any time. Typically, police do not enforce these warrants by coming to your home or tracking you down like they would with an arrest warrant. However, since the police know everyone is, or should be, at home during this time, it is possible they will come to find you.
Furthermore, if you are driving somewhere and get pulled over, the officer will see your bench warrant and can take you into custody. At a time of crisis like this, it could be days before you are set up with a videoconference or some other means of seeing a judge. If you know that a bench warrant has been issued against you, it is pivotal that you contact an experienced Atlantic City bench warrant lawyer like those at our office right away. We can contact the police and the court and try to get the warrant lifted in exchange for you working to repay your debts or agreeing to appear in court once this crisis has abated.
Arrest Warrants in Atlantic City During Covid-19
Even though the courts are closed, arrests in Atlantic City are still happening. The police remain committed to keeping the public safe during this time. If you were under investigation, that investigation is likely continuing and if the police believe they have enough evidence to arrest you, they can apply for an arrest warrant by a judge remotely. Knowing that you are likely at home, they can come and arrest you once a warrant has been issued. If you commit crimes during this time, investigations and arrest will likewise still occur.
If you arrested, the time you spend in detention waiting for a bail hearing is likely to be much greater than when the courts are running at full function. This is especially concerning considering that many Covid-19 cases have been reported in jails, where extensive social distancing is not possible and germs spread quickly. If you have been arrested, it is more important than ever to contact a skilled Atlantic City bail hearing attorney like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. We can work to get you released by the police on your own recognizance, or to expedite your detention hearing via videoconference and get you home from jail as soon as possible.
If You Are Concerned About Arrest or Bench Warrants, Call Our Atlantic City Defense Lawyers Today
Bench and arrest warrants are major issues for people even in normal times. With the unprecedented nature of the crisis now upon us, no one wants to fear that they could be ripped from their homes and taken to prison at any moment. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our experienced South Jersey criminal defense lawyers are ready and able to help you clear up any bench warrants so that you do not have to live in fear. We can also work to get you out of detention as quickly as possible if you have been arrested. Call us today at (609) 616-4956 for a free consultation.