What Happens If I Get Arrested in Philadelphia During the Coronavirus Outbreak?


The President of the United States has called for national unity and recommended that people avoid large gatherings until coronavirus, COVID-19 is under control. The virus is now present in all 50 states. Many businesses in Philadelphia have closed its doors at the urging of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and the President. The Philadelphia Police Department has been placed in a unique situation during this difficult time for our nation. Keeping the crowded holding cells within the individual Districts filled with people waiting for a determination from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Charging Unit as to whether they will be charged and then video arraigned runs counter to the recommendations issued by the Center for Disease Control to slow the spread of coronavirus.

At a news conference Wednesday morning, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw addressed the new police protocol during the coronavirus emergency. Similar to the summons process in the Magisterial District Courts, Commissioner Outlaw stated the following policy would be implemented to protect the Philadelphia Community and Philadelphia Police Offers:

“Persons who commit certain non-violent offenses will be arrested at the scene. Once their identity has been confirmed, they will be released and processed via arrest warrant . . . An officer still has the authority to utilize discretion, and take an offender into physical custody for immediate processing, if the officer and supervisor believe the individual poses to public safety.”

In Pennsylvania counties, if a person is arrested for retail theft, economic crimes like bad checks, prostitution, and other non-violent crimes, they will often be arrested and then released. If the District Attorney’s Office approves criminal charges, the arresting officer or detective will contact the person to inform them that charges have been approved and they need to be processed.

This is where having an experienced criminal defense attorney is critical. After receiving that call, your criminal defense attorney will conduct all conversations and correspondence with that officer or detective on your behalf. They will arrange a time for you to turn yourself in for processing or to be “booked,” fingerprinted and photographed. Your attorney may be able to arrange for you to be video arraigned directly from the police station as opposed to having to be transported in a police vehicle.

If you were arrested and released during the coronavirus outbreak or you or a loved one were arrested and then detained, call Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer Lauren A. Wimmer for a free consultation today at (215) 712-1212 or use our convenient online form. Getting an attorney involved in your case as early as possible may be the difference between you going to jail or fighting your case on the street. Let us fight for you.