You may be thinking about delaying action on your criminal case in Palm Beach County due to the judicial standstill caused by the Coronavirus. While courts are still technically open, most “nonessential” hearings for criminal and traffic cases in the 15th Judicial Circuit have been rescheduled to June or July to comply with Florida’s social distancing directives.
Although the pandemic may have bought you some time, this doesn’t mean you should wait until the summer to address your Palm Beach County criminal case. Quite the contrary, you should consider addressing your case now for the following reasons:
1. Virtual Hearings & Waiver of Presence.
The need for social distancing to avoid the spread of Coronavirus has prompted courts to conduct hearings virtually. This unprecedented change in court procedure means that you are much less likely to have to go to court in person. Leniency has been applied to rules regarding waiver of presence, and lawyers and clients are appearing by phone or Zoom for court hearings. If you have been nervous about going to court, now is your chance to handle your case remotely. Keep in mind that this virtual model for the justice system is only temporary, and after the threat of the virus minimizes, courts will go back to in-person hearings.
2. Reduced Bonds for Nonviolent Inmates.
If you have been recently arrested in Palm Beach County for a nonviolent crime, you have a better chance of being released on your own recognizance (without having to pay a bond) or at least being released on a lower bond. Similarly, if your arrest for a nonviolent crime occurred prior to the pandemic but you are still in custody due to a high bond, there is a chance a judge could lower your original bond amount. Contact a Palm Beach County lawyer to argue your bond at first appearance or file a motion for bond reduction.
3. More Flexibility with Negotiations.
In the same way that bonds have been reduced for nonviolent inmates, the trend with plea offers for nonviolent crimes is down. This does not mean that you will automatically receive a sweetheart deal. It does mean, however, that your lawyer may be able to negotiate a reasonably reduced sentence with the prosecution after carefully reviewing your case and making every argument to your benefit.
4. Time to Prepare.
With the courts postponing many hearings, lawyers have more time at the desk (or at home) to prepare your case. Depending on your line of work, you may have more time to provide valuable information to your lawyer. Taking this “downtime” to review evidence, engage in negotiations, discuss options, and file motions puts you ahead of your opponent. If you’re considering exercising your right to trial, this time is even more critical for preparation.
We understand the temptation to procrastinate on your criminal case during the pandemic; with other concerns such as maintaining your health and livelihood at the forefront of your mind, your misdemeanor or felony charge could take a backseat. Nevertheless, acting on your case now rather than the summer may be to your benefit for the reasons outlined above. If you are able to address your Palm Beach County criminal case during the pandemic, we recommend contacting a Palm Beach County criminal defense lawyer to guide you about the unique options that may temporarily be available to you.
An experienced criminal defense attorney in Palm Beach County should be up-to-date on the latest Florida Supreme Court and 15th Judicial Circuit Administrative Orders regarding court procedure during the Coronavirus. A local criminal defense attorney should also know how each Judge is implementing these rules. With specialized knowledge in criminal law and current procedure, a criminal defense lawyer in Palm Beach County is your best tool for negotiation, filing motions, and waiving your presence in court.
Casanova Law is a criminal defense and traffic ticket law firm in Wellington serving Palm Beach and Martin counties in cases involving DUI, battery, domestic battery, theft, drug possession, driving without a license, driving with a suspended license, and more. Leading attorney Lourdes Casanova is a former prosecutor for Palm Beach County with experience in criminal law, jury trials, and courtroom procedure. Additionally, our firm has been closely monitoring the changes in court administration during this pandemic.
Contact Casanova Law today if you want to explore the possible benefits of handling your case sooner rather than later. (People with warrants: This applies to you as well!)