How Will COVID-19 Affect Victims’ Rights in California Criminal Cases?

The coronavirus has changed how the criminal courts operate.

How Will COVID-19 Affect Victims’ Rights in California Criminal Cases?

The coronavirus has affected Californians in a range of ways. Since Governor Newsom issued a shelter-in-place order, non-essential businesses have largely closed — and others are allowing their employees to work remotely. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the criminal justice system as well. Inmates are being released from California county jails and state prisons, and the California court system has enacted emergency rules that apply to the operation of trial courts.

As an Irvine victims’ rights lawyer can explain, each county in California has issued its own orders to help stop the spread of coronavirus. For example, in Orange County, the Superior Court is closed to the public, with minimal exceptions, until April 24. In San Diego County, all non-emergency services have been suspended through April 30, and access to the courthouse is limited. County jails throughout California have released certain non-violent offenders. 3,500 inmates convicted of nonviolent offenses in the California State Prison system whose parole dates are within 60 days have also been released.

These orders are intended to prevent the spread of coronavirus, particularly in vulnerable populations like jails and prisons. But what does it mean for crime victims?

According to the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI), there are a number of ways that you may be affected by these closures and releases as a victim of crime in California. However, because the pandemic has not suspended your rights under Marsy’s Law, a skilled an Irvine victims’ rights lawyer can help protect your rights. This can be done by:

  1. Asking a court to comply with the Victim’s Bill of Rights and allow you to be present and heard during all criminal proceedings, including release proceedings.
  2. Requesting a protective order.
  3. Asking that you be allowed to attend hearings electronically to protect your constitutional rights.

Depending on the situation, there may be other ways that your attorney can advocate on your behalf during this time. The pandemic is frightening enough — you shouldn’t also have to worry that you are not being protected from harm at the hands of a perpetrator.

Attorney Michael L. Fell served as a prosecutor in Orange County for more than 18 years. During his tenure, he handled a range of cases, including murder, sexual offenses, oranges crime, and arson. Since leaving the Orange County District Attorney’s Office as a Senior Deputy District Attorney, Mr. Fell has put his experience to work for victims of the same crimes that he prosecuted in his past position. As an Irvine victims’ rights lawyer, Mr. Fell is dedicated to helping California crime victims get the help that they need to move forward with their lives — and ensuring that their rights are protected under the California constitution.

During these difficult times, you are not alone. Justice 4 Crimes Victims can work with you to assist you through the criminal justice process, whether that means advocating for you to be allowed to attend proceedings or making sure that you are protected if a perpetrator is released from jail or prison. We are here to help. Contact us today at 949-585-9055 or to schedule a consultation with a member of our team.