COVID-19 Issues in Criminal Defense Matters

Can a lawyer help during the COVID-19 environment, and how have things changed?

UPDATE as of May 7, 2020:

General Order 2020-8 continues all civil and criminal trials scheduled to commence now through July 6, 2020, subject to further order of the presiding judicial officer.

There is much I can do to help folks out, maybe more now than ever. The Criminal Justice system is in a very fluid place. Just two weeks ago, I had a Denver Police Officer screaming on the phone, threatening to “destroy” the property via SWAT teams in response to my pleading not to have a young lady, accused of her first crime, a property crime, not to have to turn herself into the jail (we negotiated a felony Diversion deal for her). This officer knew that the Defendant’s elderly mother was fighting Leukemia. Difficult times. Thankfully, however, that has been the exception to the rule. Law Enforcement and DAs, court clerks, and judges, for the most part, are really coming together in a profound way to solve the problems we are all facing.

Are arrests and prosecutions down in Colorado?

Yes, it appears that fewer arrests are being made, and fewer of those cases are being accepted for prosecution, but that is just my personal assessment. It is taking some work and patience, but I’ve never had more cooperation from those in the Criminal Justice system.

Law enforcement doesn’t want to have contact with folks now any more than folks want to have contact with law enforcement. Sheriff’s offices are not taking fingerprints, and transport operations and companies are not extraditing defendants to different jurisdictions. At WeedenLaw, I’ve arranged for bond modifications, including arranging a Personal Recognizance Bond for a Defendant originally threatened with the dreaded “van ride from hell” that is cross-country extradition. I’ve had cases dismissed and plea offers that seem to be “sweetened” by the pressures on the system created by the COVID-19 emergency.

What is happening with ongoing cases?

Most court matters are being continued for months, including into June and July. I’ve also negotiated plea deals where no one had to appear at all. Appearances, not being continued, are being handled via phone and video (mostly WebEx). Most DAs and judges are swamped and are working hard to dispose of cases and trying to help out folks in challenging situations.

Are defendants being extradited or those serving sentences let out of jail?

The lead Prosecutor in Pitkin County did amazing work to help stop the possibility of extradition and a Defendant being stuck in jail, maybe until the health emergency is over! No one wants the physical risk of contact with arresting, booking, and transporting those suspected of crimes. People serving sentences are being let out early in many circumstances, but it is on a case-by-case basis, sometimes as a result of motions filed.

If you need an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney, please feel free to give me a call at 720-307-4330 with any COVID-19 questions. If I don’t have the answer, I’ll find it or get you to folks with the answers.

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