The coronavirus pandemic has forced everyone to take a step back and make temporary changes to how things are run, but some Connecticut officials suggest looking into making more permanent changes to the system. One of the most simple changes that has been proposed is simply granting all criminal defendants the right to waive all nonessential court appearances, as long as they are represented by an attorney. The current Practice Book provides for modified procedures if a defendant waives his or her right to a court appearance, although it is not an option for all defendants at all times.
Reasons to Allow Court Appearances to Be Waived
Criminal court cases are notoriously long and complicated processes that can take months, if not years to complete. During the length of the case, the defendant is required to appear at each and every court date. However, that practice is rather repetitive because one of the purposes of a defendant’s arraignment is to determine if that person poses a flight risk. Other ways this requirement impedes the system include:
Forcing all defendants to be present can really slow down the efficiency. You cannot just walk into a courthouse. Most courthouses have some sort of security or metal detectors that you must go through before you can gain entrance. Hundreds of people, such as defendants, their family members, lawyers, and others are processed through to wait until their case is called. It is not uncommon during a criminal case for you to be notified that a court date has been rescheduled after you have been waiting for hours.
Too many people present in courthouses can pose a risk. Now, during the coronavirus pandemic, packing too many people into small courthouses can pose a health risk to everyone involved. When people are intermingling with one another, touching shared objects, and sharing close quarters, the risk of getting sick is suddenly increased simply by being at the courthouse for a court date that might not even accomplish anything.
Having to be present for every single court date is very inconvenient for defendants. Every time you have to be at court in person, that is another day that you have to take off of work or school, or find childcare for your children. If you do not have a vehicle, you also have to figure out how to transport yourself to the courthouse on time for every appearance. If you miss a court date or you are late for a court hearing, you could face serious consequences, even if it was not a hearing that decided anything.
Contact an East Hartford, CT Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have never been involved in the criminal justice system before, the entire process can be scary and overwhelming at times. With a knowledgeable Hartford, CT criminal defense lawyer by your side, you can have peace of mind knowing that your best interests are always kept in mind. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we have provided legal assistance to clients in various areas for more than 20 years. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 860-290-8690.