How COVID-19 Affects Florida Criminal Courts

From work and school to concerts and sporting events, the Coronavirus outbreak has put a stop to many aspects of our daily lives. Federal, state, and local governments have issued mandates requiring most people to stay in their homes for at least two weeks in order to “flatten the curve” of new cases and deaths throughout the United States.

But what does that mean for people who are scheduled to appear in criminal courts? In Florida, many courthouses throughout the state have closed their doors for the time being.

On Tuesday, the Florida Supreme Court issued a statewide order, limiting how the court functions during the pandemic that will remain in effect until March 27. Chief Justice Charles Canady said that criminal and civil jury trials, grand jury proceedings, and jury selection proceedings have all been suspended.

On the same day, Miami-Dade County Courthouse shut down court facilities until March 27 as well. Staff members will work from until during this period.

However, the temporary shutdown doesn’t apply to the following emergency or “mission-critical” cases:

  • Arraignments
  • First court appearances (bond hearings)
  • Emergency petitions for temporary injunctions
  • Juvenile detention and shelter hearings
  • Baker Act and substance abuse hearings
  • Emergency hearings set by presiding judges

Other than the matters mentioned above, any previously-schedule court date will be rescheduled to a future date. Defendants who are currently in custody during the court closure do not have to appear for their arraignments. If there is a written plea, then cases will be set for trial.

On Monday, Broward County courts closed their doors. However, Palm Beach County courts will only close on Fridays until May 1.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Miami, The Hoffman Firm is still available to fight for you inside or outside the courtroom. We can answer your legal questions and handle most legal issues by phone, text, or e-mail. Additionally, we can do immediate custody release hearings for non-violent offenders based on the COVID-19 outbreak.

For more information about the Miami-Dade court system or our legal services, contact us today at (305) 928-1669.