The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically modified many aspects of daily living, including how courts handle the process of handling criminal hearings and trials. Criminal defendants have many rights under the state and federal constitutions, but some of them have been altered or impinged by COVID-19 orders, and it is critical for people charged with criminal offenses to understand how their cases will proceed during the pandemic. If you are accused of a crime, you should meet with a skillful Sarasota criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options.
Florida Court Process During COVID-19
Throughout the pandemic, many Florida courts have been operating under modifications based on local public health information in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. For example, some courts have temporarily halted non-jury and in-person jury trials, while others have limited the number of trials they are allowing to proceed.
Criminal defendants have numerous rights, though, including the right to a speedy trial. Specifically, under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.191, a criminal trial must begin within ninety days of a person’s arrest if the crime charged is a misdemeanor. If the underlying offense is a felony, the trial must commence within one hundred and seventy-five days of the defendant’s arrest. In some cases, a defendant may be able to file a demand for a speedy trial, in which case the trial must commence within fifty days.