How Do I Know if I Have Court During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

During these times, it is a constant unknown on whether we will have to stay at home by order of the Governor or whether you may lose your job as a result of the current world events. Here in Washington, if you have a criminal case, then you may be wondering if you’ll have to appear for your currently scheduled court date.

Which begs the question: How do I know if I must appear at court?

The short answer: It depends, and you should contact your lawyer or consider hiring us.

There is multiple court order out there which could impact you on whether or not you need to appear for court.  The first thing we suggest is that you speak to your attorney, and if you do not have one, please feel free to contact us asap.  https://www.woodsimslaw.com/contact-us/

That said, here is a list of ways to find out about your court date.

I. BY ORDER OF THE WASHINGTON STATE SUPREME COURT

At this time, The Washington State Supreme court has issued a court order that will be in effect until at least 4/24/2020.  That order sets out the dos and don’ts of how a court may proceed in Washington State, given the coronavirus and Covid-19 concerns.

  1.  All out of custody matters already pending are going to be continued to a date after 4/24/20 “except certain motions, actions on agreed orders, conferences, or other proceedings that can appropriately be conducted by telephone, video or other means that do not require in-person attendance.”
  2. The court will have to reset the court dates and notify the attorney of record or if not represented then the defendant. The attorney MUST then inform the client per the court order.
  3.  IN-Custody matters will still proceed but technically can be done over the phone.   Plea hearings and sentence hearings are one of the exceptions.  The courts must prioritize those who will get out before 4/24/20 or within 30 days from the sentencing date at this time. But could change by further order of the courts.
  4. Also, by order of the court, they cannot issue warrants for clients not showing between now and 4/24/20.
  5. The court can issue warrants though for pre-trial release violations absent a hearing.
  6. The courts throughout the state may enact stricter restrictions than are in this order.

The full amended order can be reviewed by following this link:  http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/publicUpload/Supreme%20Court%20Orders/Supreme%20Court%20Emergency%20Order%20re%20CV19%20031820.pdf

II. What about my local court?

There are several resources that you can look at to determine how your local courts are responding to the Corona Virus Pandemic here in King County and beyond.

All courts are bound by the Washington State Order above, but many have also issued their own independent orders as located below:

You may be wondering, in most courts, your speeding tickets and other infractions from Snohomish County to Pierce County have been impacted and are either being reset or will be reset by further order of the courts.  You can also go to the Washington State Office of the Courts to see about court closures and link to the orders for courts throughout the state:

http://www.courts.wa.gov/index.cfm?fa=home.courtClosures

All courts are bound by the Washington State Order above, but many have also issued their own independent orders as located below:

King County District Court is currently only handling in-custody and emergency matters such as protection order hearings.  Much of the other courts are operating in a similar manner.  But also know that the courts may also be changing where they operate out of on a temporary basis as well.  Such as King County District court.  It is recommended that you review the court order to see how this may further impact your case: https://www.kingcounty.gov/~/media/courts/DistrictCourt/pdfs/Emergency_Order_4-2020.ashx?la=en

King County Superior court has all of their orders related to the COVID-19 listed at the following link: https://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/superior-court.aspx

Pierce County Superior Court and the emergency orders regarding the COVID-19 public health emergency in Washington State:  https://www.co.pierce.wa.us/122/Superior-Court

Pierce County District Court: https://www.piercecountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/90475/PCDC-General-Order-No-2020_02

Snohomish County District Court:  https://www.snohomishcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/72165/Emergency-Web-Announcement?bidId=

III. Does my Municipal court still have hearings during COVID-19 Public health emergency?

The short answer is that it depends.  Most courts are working within the confines of the Washington State Supreme Court order above.  But some courts are still working on a modified schedule with even more restrictive order.  Kent Municipal Court is one of those who are acting in an even more restrictive manner than the Washington State Supreme Court Order.  https://www.kentwa.gov/residents/public-safety/municipal-court

What does that mean?  It means that some courts are still holding their in-custody hearings.  Those are the people who have been arrested as well as some emergency court hearings.  Aside from those hearings the courts are not generally having out of custody hearings, and those out of custody hearings are set out into late April if not further.

Courts are not all uniformed on their handling of things.  The city of Kent Municipal court is still handling some cases, mostly in-custody cases except for emergency hearings set by the court.  If you have a court date coming up, your out of custody hearing is likely being or already has been continued until at least after April 24, 2020.  See court order for additional information for the Kent Municipal Court: https://www.kentwa.gov/home/showdocument?id=14234

IV. What should I do about my court date?

Things will continue to develop and change as we all address the concerns brought about by this global pandemic.  The courts have been changing their responses by the day if not by the hour.  Most courts are currently bound by the April 24, 2020 date as indicated above but may have even more restrictive orders.  If you have a court date for criminal cases such as DUI’s, Felony charges, and all other criminal matters, including infractions, please contact your attorney.  If you are looking to hire a lawyer for your DUI or other criminal charges, including infractions, please do not hesitate to contact our office at Wood Sims Law.  We would be happy to work with you and be there for you during these unknown times.  Feel free to go to our contact us page, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.  https://www.woodsimslaw.com/contact-us/

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