There’s no denying that the current pandemic is affecting every aspect of our lives, and the legal system is no exception. The courts are making changes to how cases are handled to help reduce the spread of the virus. For some, this could be good news as some criminal trials are being delayed. According to an AZ Central news report, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is reducing the number of people it’s charging with crimes for now.
Keeping public safety in mind, the reduction in criminal trials means there are potentially fewer people in courtrooms and in the county jail. According to statistics released from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office, the average inmate population is already dropping. In mid-April, the average inmate population was 5,550, down from 7,500 prior to the pandemic.
If you have been arrested for a crime or you believe you are being investigated for one, it’s important to contact a Phoenix criminal defense attorney. Depending on the charges, it may be possible to have the charges reduced or even dismissed early on given the current situation with COVID-19.
Getting Inmates Out of Jails
Public health and safety are paramount during a pandemic like this. One way to help reduce the spread is to reduce the number of people in jails where the virus can easily be transmitted. Previously, defendants facing criminal charges might be held in jail before the trial date. Now, the discussion is whether or not someone should be held pending trial. In many cases now, you may have a better chance of being granted bail or released on your own recognizance. Being held in jail pretrial should be reserved for only the most serious of cases.
Being More Decisive on Cases Filed
Depending on the crime you are being charged with, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office may not prosecute at all. Based on data, it appears that the prosecutors are focused on specific crimes and defendants who are already in custody. The number of cases filed is down significantly between early March and now.
For example, between the week of March 2nd through March 6th, law enforcement submitted 897 cases for consideration. Of those 897 cases, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office filed charges in 734 cases. Compare that to the week of April 20th through April 24th. 840 cases were submitted by law enforcement, but the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office opted to file charges in only 107 of them.
Most cases filed in April were felonies. Out of 324 total cases, only 59 were misdemeanors.
Are Prisoners Being Released?
Now is the time to file defense motions to amend release conditions. However, there is no guarantee it will get you or someone you love out of jail any sooner. The attorney’s office has released over 50 low-level offenders who had low bails and did not present any danger to the community. Some inmates that are part of a work-release program have also been allowed to stay at home.
Contact a Phoenix Criminal Attorney
It’s more important than ever that you retain an experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney if you are arrested or in jail pending trial. The effects of COVID-19 will continue to affect the court system for an unknown amount of time. Retaining an attorney can help prepare the best defense possible and help get your charges dismissed or reduced. If you need assistance, contact the Phoenix criminal attorneys at Blumberg & Associates today to schedule an initial consultation.