The COVID-19 pandemic impacted and continues to impact pretty much every part of our lives. We started wearing masks and avoided getting together with large groups. We cut back on actually going into work and even visiting with family members. Now that we have had over a year of making these transitions, we have some data on how these changes impact our lives. Businesses are looking into how the shift impacted worker productivity and schools are looking at how well students learned while in virtual classes.
Another interesting area of society that had to evolve during the pandemic: the criminal justice system. It was not realistic for crowded courts to follow social distancing and continue operations. Instead, in many situations, the courts pushed for criminal cases to move to an online platform. A recent study out of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center dug into the process with a focus on how it impacted criminal cases.
What did the study find?
The study included a survey of almost 250 defense attorneys from throughout the country who practice within a state court system. Of those surveyed, the vast majority stated that client communication took a hit during the pandemic. They state it was very difficult to make sure conversations were confidential and to regularly maintain contact.
Overall, the study found that relatively minor hearings status conferences and scheduling meetings could continue using this virtual platform. However, the researchers also found that those who partook in the study strongly believed more serious hearings and trials should be conducted in person.
What does this mean for me?
Those who are facing criminal charges or who have a loved one attempting to navigate this system are wise to stay current in how the court systems are working and whether or not there are changes due to the pandemic.
You do not have to go through this alone. You can hire professional aid to advocate for your rights and better ensure a more favorable outcome.