Louisiana Arrests During COVID
As you likely know if you live in Louisiana, the governor’s Stay at Home Order required all residents to remain at home aside from non-essential business until May 15, and the “phase one” of reopening recommends that Louisiana residents “should still stay at home as much as possible to avoid unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. Accordingly, many people are still quarantining in their homes or only going out for short periods of time to run essential errands. Yet despite the fact that many Louisiana residents are largely at home, police departments and law enforcement officials throughout the state are still arresting people, and Louisianans are being charged with a wide variety of criminal offenses.
If you are arrested during the COVID-19 pandemic, what options do you have? Given that many court dates have been postponed or suspended, you may be wondering if you have any options to get out of jail or to contest the arrest.
Suspension of the Right to a Speedy Trial
Under ordinary circumstances, anyone who has been arrested in Louisiana has a right to a speedy trial under Louisiana law. Specifically, Louisiana law states that, for defendants who are held in custody after an arrest, an indictment must be filed within 45 days of the arrest for a misdemeanor or within 60 days of arrest for a felony offense. Even if a defendant is not held in custody after an arrest, an indictment must be filed within 90 days of the arrest for a misdemeanor offense and within 150 days of arrest for a felony offense. However, jury trials have been suspended in the state due to the COVID-19 emergency, and many defendants have not received necessary information pertaining to a court date for the charges they are facing.
Such lack of information should violate a person’s right to speedy trial under normal circumstances. However, according to a recent state order, postponements are excluded under the Speedy Trial Act. More specifically, Louisiana courts say that “the ends of justice served by ordering the postponements outweigh the best interest of the public and any defendant’s right to a speedy trial.” If you have questions about your rights or appealing this order, you should get in touch with a criminal defense lawyer in Louisiana as soon as possible.
You Can Still Get Out on Bail
If you are being held in custody after being arrested, you should know that bail bondsmen are considered essential, and they have remained open through the Stay at Home Order and the phase one reopening plans.
While many courts are not yet open, you should know that bond hearings are still occurring remotely. As such, your Louisiana criminal defense lawyer can work for you to get out of jail as soon as possible by seeking a reduced bond or even a plea that can get you out of a jail in which you could be at risk of contracting COVID-19.
Seek Advice from a Louisiana Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you were arrested during the coronavirus pandemic and need assistance with bail, bond, your right to a speedy trial, or other matters pertaining specifically to your defense, you should know that an experienced and aggressive Louisiana criminal defense lawyer at our firm can assist you. Contact the Law Office of Robert S. Toale for more information about the services we provide to clients in New Orleans, Gretna, Jefferson Parish, and elsewhere in Louisiana.