As the COVID – 19 infection rate increases in the U.S., the government is adopting severe measures to protect citizens from contracting the disease. Social distancing is encouraged, and citizens are advised to stay home.
If you have a pending case in the courts, your case proceedings have definitely been affected by the COVID – 19 rules and regulations. You may be wondering how to continue working with your lawyer. Here is some advice.
Follow court restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID -19
Each court in the U.S. has restrictions in place to protect staff, lawyers, defendants, and others who visit the premises from spreading or catching the virus.
Some courts have suspended proceedings until the virus is under control. These are courts in places with a lot of infections or deaths. If your case is scheduled in a court that has suspended proceedings, you can only wait until they get back to work.
Some U.S. Courts of Appeal continue to work but require anyone exhibiting COVID – 19 symptoms and is due for a proceeding to notify the court beforehand and reschedule. If your case is in such a court, you and your lawyer will obviously continue as normal but adhere to court rules.
If a court is still open for business, they are likely to have some measures in place to prevent or reduce infections. These are social distancing, sanitizing, and asking anyone who feels sick to give notice if they have a hearing and stay at home.
If you have to visit your lawyer’s office in person, ensure that you practice social distancing and sanitizing. If you feel ill you, obviously have to ask for a rescheduling of your case until you feel better. Your lawyer can help you with any paperwork concerning this.
Following state regulations to curb the spread of COVID -19
Apart from the court rules, the regulations put forth by your state to curb COVID -19 infections will determine how you work with your lawyer.
In places with a high infection rate, people are under lock down. In areas where the situation is not so serious, the authorities are asking people to adhere to shelter-in-place regulations. But overall, everywhere in the US, social distancing is encouraged.
Under shelter in place regulations, you can leave your home to perform essential tasks as long as you practice social distancing. That’s keeping at least 6 feet away from others.
Under shelter in place, you can also go grocery shopping, visit a doctor, or report to work as an essential worker. As a client, you could continue meeting with your lawyer under these regulations if your case is really urgent, and you practice social distancing. You could combine short meetings with regular telephone calls to keep abreast of your case progress. However, if your case is not urgent, you are better off waiting until the restrictions are lifted.
In the case of a strict lockdown, you are prohibited from leaving your home for unnecessary reasons. States like Florida and California have already enacted strict lockdown measures.
During a lockdown, only people providing essential services such as doctors and police can venture out as usual while others stay home. Regular people can only leave their homes to access essential services such as medical attention. That means your lawyer may have to close the business for the duration of the lockdown, which means he or she cannot work on your case until things get back to normal.
When you are under self-quarantine, it means you are either infected or have come into contact with an infected person. You are expected to stay secluded for 14 days under self-quarantine either to ascertain if you have the virus or to get treated. Under such circumstances, you cannot leave the house, so your lawyer has to put off the case. If you break Federal quarantine rules, you could get fined or sent to jail.
Is working online a solution?
One great way to work that many people are using to beat COVID -19 restrictions is using the internet. If you are under self-quarantine, shelter in place, or strict lock down, you can work online if you have reliable internet access.
In states like Texas, judges are working via video conferencing instead of holding regular hearings. Using the internet and telephones reduces the risk of infections and means a lawyer or judge can work from anywhere. However, this can only work if you, your Denton Texas criminal defense attorney, and the judge involved in the case can liaise online.
If it’s not possible to work online with your lawyer, and you have to adhere to strict lockdown regulations, you can only wait for this trying period to pass. Hopefully, the disease will be under control soon, and things will get back to normal.
Stay in touch with your attorney on email and telephone to keep abreast of any developments in your case, follow regulations and guidelines set in your state and wait it out. This too shall pass.