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COVID-19: Philadelphia Criminal Court Extends Court Closure Through May


4/28/2020

The Administrative Governing Board of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania issued a new order continuing the closure of the Philadelphia courts through the month of May. This means that all preliminary hearings, waiver and jury trials, sentencings, motions hearings, status listings, pre-trial conferences and hearings for the Summary Diversion Program and Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program will be continued until further notice. If you received a subpoena to come to court, you will receive a new subpoena in the mail sometime in the upcoming weeks with a new court date. You may also check the status of your case by reviewing the docket on the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania Web Portal.

This is an incredibly frustrating time for all, but especially for those whose criminal trials have been postponed due to coronavirus. When the courts reopen, criminal defendants who are awaiting a jury trial will likely be forced to go to trial many months after that opening date simply because Philadelphia judges schedule jury trials months in advance. Your new trial date will depend on the judge’s calendar and that of your attorney, the District Attorney, and the Philadelphia Police Officers and any other witnesses who are needed to testify as to the course of the investigation into your case. The good news is that if you did not have confidence in your prior or existing attorney, you now have been granted the time to hire new counsel, prepare for trial, and win.

Many charged with new criminal cases may be held in jail on a state detainer, county detainer, or very high bail. At this time, there is no clear path for those who are being held on a state detainer to petition for release. If you are being held on a county detainer or are unable to post bail, a motion to lift the detainer or a motion for a bail reduction may be filed. These motions are being decided “on paper” in Philadelphia or in a courtroom with limited participants, meaning there are no court hearings where the defendant is present at counsel table. Hiring a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney to file these motions provides the defendant and their family the assurance that the correct information is being put before the court so that he or she is given the best possible chance for release.

Wimmer Criminal Defense is a Philadelphia criminal defense law firm. We handle cases in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Many of our clients have family members who retain our office on their behalf as now, more than ever, it is difficult to reach the outside world from inside a prison. We welcome you to contact us by phone for a free consultation. Many clients want to put a face to a name and we now offer video conferencing via Facetime, Skype and Zoom. Since our ability to conduct in-person visits at the prison is on hold due to COVID-19, we are arranging for attorney-client calls directly with the county and state prisons. We are also offering contact-free payment options.

If you or a loved one has been arrested and is facing criminal charges in Philadelphia or the surrounding areas, please contact us today at (215) 712-1212 or use our easy online contact form for a free consultation.