Florida is now among the states that have imposed quarantine restrictions on businesses and travel. Courthouses, which are typically always a busy place to be, are now functioning at reduced capacity to limit the spread of the virus. Only essential court hearings will be held until the quarantine is lifted. What does that mean?
We’ll talk more about this below.
Types of Hearings That Will be Scheduled
The court has reduced the types of hearings that will be scheduled to first appearances only, bond modifications, pleas, and domestic violence orders. Those seeking to get married will also be able to do so during the virus shutdown. Those who are being involuntarily hospitalized for mental health problems will also be able to appear before a judge.
These hearings will continue to be held in person at West Palm Beach courthouses. All nonessential hearings will either be postponed or done remotely during the virus shutdown.
This comes after courthouse staff tested positive for the virus. This was reported by the Palm Beach Post on March 25. The unnamed employee worked in the law library and did not start showing symptoms until March 17. At that point, they quarantined themselves at home. The last anyone heard, they were recovering from the virus. The law library was completely sanitized to prevent the virus from being passed on to others. An email was sent to any individual who had signed into the law library warning them that they may have potentially contracted the virus.
PBC Clerk Limits In-Person Contact
The PBC clerk is limiting in-person contact between itself and members of the public, it was announced. However, some of the services that they provide are still available online. You can file documents with the court and pay off parking tickets if you choose (but you should know that by sending in your ticket money, you are pleading guilty to the infraction).
Essentially, anything that can be done online is now being done online.
Jury Trials and Jury Selection
There will be no jury trials or jury selection during the novel coronavirus shutdown. The suspensions will last two weeks from Monday 16 and will be revisited then on Monday, March 30.
I’ve Been Arrested! What Should I Do?
If you’re arrested during the coronavirus shutdown, you should contact a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney immediately. At this point, first appearances are still being heard. Having an attorney on your side could mean the difference between waiting this whole thing out in jail and being able to wait it out at home with your family. Your case will not be heard until well after the virus quarantine has been lifted.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’re arrested during the virus shutdown, call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the Skier Law Firm, P.A. to ensure that your rights are protected and that you don’t get railroaded by an overzealous prosecutor.