Are San Diego Courts Holding Criminal Hearings?
As promised by Judge Alksne, all branches of the San Diego Superior Court "opened" on Tuesday, but it is clearly far from business as usual. Instead of a gallery full of in and out-of-custody defendants, their families, the press, etc, all court hearings are now being conducted through Microsoft Teams, an internet-based video conferencing platform.
What Court Hearings are Being Held in Vista?
Currently, only in-custody arraignments are being conducted, along with other cases that have been agreed to be added to the "triage" calendar, meaning the defense attorney and DA have agreed to either a disposition (Change of Plea or Dismissal) or a continuance. If you have a case that has not been heard in court yet, contact your attorney, but the DA's office has not been able to handle or negotiate many out of custody cases yet, as their staff is fairly skeletal as well, and there are currently over 20,000 cases to be re-negotiated and re-scheduled.
What if I was ordered to enroll in a DUI School like OHS in San Marcos?
The court has issued temporary orders that have continued all proof dates for enrollment in programs like DUI schools or Work Release programs, and you will not be in violation if you failed to enroll in a program during the time court was officially closed (March 13th through May 26th). As of today's date, there are no classes being offered online for DUI classes, and they are not conducting in-person meetings. The San Diego Sheriff is also not allowing Work Release programs during the Shelter-in-Place orders.
How do I get my case back on the Vista Court Calendar?
Contacting your attorney will help, but as previously mentioned, the Court is relying on the DA's office to place matters on calendar once they have been negotiated, and most of the DA's in Vista and all of San Diego County are slowly trying to get up to speed. Many DA's and court staff have their own personal demands caused by the virus, so staffing in all areas has been a problem.
Will I get a better Deal on My Domestic Violence Case in Vista because of the Corona Virus?
This issue remains to be seen. Both DUI's and domestic violence cases have been exceptions to the State's emergency no-bail order, but very few out-of-custody cases have been heard so far. In theory, the DA's office should provide incentives for defendants willing to resolve their cases quickly, however thus far we haven't seen a lot of "crazy deals" coming from their offices. Having an aggressive attorney during times of stress can often help improve offers over someone not willing to enforce your rights, but being reasonable can also be rewarded. Jury trials are not feasible for months to come, so the San Diego and Vista Judges are indicating they will help try to resolve cases, even if they prosecutor is being inflexible. As more cases are heard, we will have a better idea how reasonable the prosecutors will be.
What can I do if I want my San Diego DUI Case Resolved?
If you are out of custody, and your court date has come and gone, a private attorney can start the process in court without your personal appearance on any misdemeanor case. Its possible that because of the virus status and its impact on the court system, that investing in an experienced attorney can enhance your ability to get a favorable resolution.