MA Criminal Courts During Corona-virus

Posted on April 6, 2020 by Joseph

The current crisis has put the criminal court system in an unprecedented struggle to function. Court hearings are happening by telephone conference, or video-link (if you are lucky). The Supreme Judicial Court has already ruled that delays resulting from the current crisis, will not be applied toward a defendant’s Constitutional speedy trial rights.

As a safety valve, defendants may make motions for in-person hearings or even jury trials during the pandemic. However, given the risk to the public and court staff, judges are likely going to err on the side of denying such motions until the crisis has abated.

Under a new decision from the highest court in the Commonwealth, defendants on cash bail have a presumptive right to be released from jail. Those held for generousness have no presumptive right to release. 

Those with open criminal cases can expect indefinite delays before their case goes to trial.