Coronavirus (Covid-19) Impacts on Criminal and Traffic Law Practice in Virginia
The Yeargan Law Office is here to answer your questions about how the Coronavirus crisis is affecting your life and criminal/traffic law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Currently, the Virginia Supreme Court has closed all of the courts in the state through May 17, 2020. The text of this Order by the Virginia Supreme Court is located here: Supreme Court of Virginia. Some counties have extended this closure period, based on their own needs. Non-Emergency trials and hearings have been continued by the local clerks to court dates two to three months away. However, emergency matters may still be heard by the courts.
Below are some typical questions the law office answers on a regular basis:Are Arraignments Still Being Heard by The General District Court and The Juvenile and Domestic Relations General District Court?
Answer: Yes. The Clerks are scheduling arraignments for Defendants charged with misdemeanors and felonies in the General District Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. Defendants are advised of the nature of the charges and their right to hire an attorney for their case or request court appointed counsel. At the arraignment, the Defendant is given a new trial date for misdemeanors and a Preliminary Hearing date for felonies. These dates are being scheduled several months into the future.Are The Courts Still Hearing Bond Motions for Defendants Recently Arrested and Being Held in Incarceration During The Epidemic Before Their Trial Date?
Answer: Yes. The General District Courts, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts, and Circuit Courts are treating Bond Motions in criminal cases as high priority emergency matters and hearing them as soon as possible. Defendants who are recently arrested and incarcerated will be given a fair hearing for release on bond pending trial.Are Felony Preliminary Hearings Still Being Held During The Coronavirus Pandemic?
Answer: No. Felony Preliminary Hearings (probable cause hearings to determine if enough evidence exists for a case to go forward to trial) are being continued by the clerks to new court dates two to three months in the future.Is it Against The Law for me to Leave My Home for Non-Essential Travel During the Coronavirus Epidemic?
Answer: Yes. The Governor has issued an order banning Non-Essential Travel in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Citizens are required to stay home during the epidemic in order to limit transmission of the virus. Gatherings of more than ten people are prohibited, including social events and religious observances. Colleges and institutions of higher learning are closed. It is a Class 1 misdemeanor to violate certain provisions of this Order, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.00.
The Order is in effect until June 10, 2020. The text of this Order may be found here: Temporary Stay at Home Order Due to Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19)
However, the Order makes it clear that people in the state may still travel from their home for work, to obtain food or beverages, or to take care of a family member. Medical Care travel, exercising outside while observing social distancing, and volunteering with an organization are also allowed by the Order. The main intent of the Order is to limit non-essential activities and contact between people to limit transmission of the virus to the general public.
If you have a question about how your case is specifically affected by the COVID-19 crisis, please contact the Yeargan Law Office today. The office is open and ready to help you with your questions and concerns. Attorney Yeargan will provide a free, initial consultation.