Attorney Chris Spring is continuing to represent clients charged with criminal offenses in Massachusetts during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and he is accepting new clients. Attorney Spring can be reached anytime on his cell phone at 617-513-9444 and is available for phone consultations and video conferences. He is also continuing to represent clients in court, even when his clients are unable to appear.
Are Massachusetts courthouses still open?
Courthouses in Massachusetts continue to operate but are handling large portions of the docket remotely, with lawyers and their clients appearing by way of Zoom. Different courts have different rules for the types of cases that are being heard in-person. Most courts are offering to conduct jury-waived trials (also known as bench trials). While there are tentative plans for some jury trials to resume in November, the trial court administrators are continuing to work on the logistics. It will be many more months before jury trials are conducted regularly in Massachusetts courthouses. Courts are continuing to preside over arraignments for defendants, either in-person or remotely.
What happens if I am arrested?
You will be brought to the police station and booked in the ordinary manner. Depending on the seriousness of the charges, the police might transport you to the courthouse for your arraignment. Alternatively, the police might issue you a summons to report to court on some later date to be arraigned.
Are people being released from jail as a result of COVID-19?
Yes. The Supreme Judicial Court has acknowledged the danger the virus poses to people who are in prisons and jails. Therefore, anybody who is being held without bail, or on cash bail, pending trial or a final probation violation hearing is entitled to a new hearing where a judge will consider releasing him. Additionally, anyone who has been sentenced to jail within the past 60 days can file a motion for immediate release. Attorney Spring has successfully argued for the release of clients in both of these situations.
Am I still entitled to a speedy trial?
The general rule in Massachusetts is that you are entitled to go to trial within one year of your arraignment. However, the time period when court is closed as a result of the virus is excluded from the one-year computation period. As a result, you will not necessarily be entitled to go to trial within one year of the arraignment if your case is currently pending.
If my case is continued, how will I find out the next date?
The clerk’s offices in all of the courthouses are still open. Attorneys are working with the clerks to reschedule matters and your lawyer will be able to find out your next date for you.
What happens if I’m sick?
You should call your attorney, who may advise you not to go to court. If you were treated at the hospital or by your primary care physician, your doctor can fax a letter to the courthouse summarizing your treatment and a judge will very likely continue your case without issuing a default warrant against you.