977b Waiver of Court Appearance. If you have a criminal case pending in Los Angeles, do you have to appear in court or disobey the Governor's order regarding the coronavirus? This is a good question because the Governor's order now says that nobody can leave except for essential things, as I put this content on the website.
So, the bottom line is, if you have a criminal case pending and you've been ordered to appear there — it is a critical business in the sense that it is recognized to be an urgent need related to handling criminal matters. So, if you have a court appearance, you can appear, and you wouldn't be violating the Governor's order.
Now there's another more important issue: whether you have to appear despite the Governor's order and risk being infected by the Coronavirus by going into court, which a lot of people go through. As I make this post, in most cases, an attorney can appear for you, and a lot of times, they'll even let the attorney appear over the phone. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will explain further below.
If you have a felony, there's a 977b waiver, a written waiver where you waive your appearance in court. Your attorney can make representations to the judge that the attorney has told you what all of your rights are regarding your appearance and that you've decided not to go to court because of health concerns.
Once that waiver is filed, I would say just about all judges in Los Angeles County will accept that in these times with the Coronavirus going around. They don't want people in the court either because they could infect the prosecutors, court staff, bailiffs, etc.
So, right now, if it's handled the right way by an attorney who knows what they're doing, you should be able to avoid going to court again unless you and your attorney decide that it's in your best interest to go to court, or somehow you're ordered into court despite the Coronavirus going on.
So, if you've got a criminal case, you don't want to go to court. You want to get an attorney to defend you and decide whether you need to go to court.
Criminal Cases Continued for 60 to 90 Days
A lot of courts right now, in April 2020, are continuing cases for 60 to 90 days, so they can clear out all the courts while they wait for this Coronavirus to settle down and not be as likely to infect somebody.
I think that's going to cause an extensive backup in the courts. Hopefully, that will work to the defendants' advantage in trying to resolve cases so that you can get your matter resolved much more accessible and avoid jail time altogether. If you've got a criminal case pending in Los Angeles County and need some help and don't want to go to court because of the Coronavirus, pick up the phone and call me — Ron Hedding. I've been doing this for 26 years.
Unfortunately, I'm going to the court having to deal with many cases, so I know exactly what's going on in the criminal courts right now, and I will try to do everything possible to keep you out of court — at least for the 60 to 90 days.
Obviously, to see what we can do to keep you out of jail moving forward and resolve your matter — whether it be a case that you're innocent of and you need to do a jury trial — which have also all been continued 60 to 90 days — or whether it's a case where they do have the evidence, but obviously, you want to do damage control to work out the best resolution possible.
So, the Coronavirus is real. The courts are taking it seriously. But of course, they're criminal courts, so none of the 38 courts have closed down entirely, and they still are handling business in a limited capacity. You need an attorney to guide you through to end up with the best result and not have a bench warrant issued for your arrest.