COVID-19 AND YOUR STATE CONSTITUTIONAL AND DUE PROCESS RIGHTS
During this chaotic time, it is important to stay informed. Often, as either an inmate or a family member/friend of an inmate, it is difficult to stay informed; especially as it pertains to constitutional and due process rights. COVID-19 complicates this even further.
The Moran Law Firm seeks to bring clarity during this troubled time. The following is a directive initiated by California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye:
Regarding COVID-19, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye issued a directive requiring action be taken immediately by the courts to protect constitutional and due process rights. This directive states:
- Revise, on an emergency basis, the countywide bail schedule to lower bail amounts significantly for the duration of the coronavirus emergency, including lowering the bail amount to $0 for many lower level offenses – for all misdemeanors except for those listed in Penal Code section 1270.1 and for lower-level felonies. This will result in fewer individuals in county jails thus alleviating some of the pressures for arraignments within 48 hours and preliminary hearings within 10 days.
- In setting an adult or juvenile defendant’s conditions of custody, including the length, eligibility for alternative sentencing, and surrender date, the court should consider defendant’s existing health conditions, and any conditions existing at defendant’s anticipated place of confinement that could affect the defendant’s health, the health of other detainees, or the health of personnel staffing the anticipated place of confinement.
- With the assistance of justice partners, identify those persons currently in county jail or juvenile hall custody who have less than 60 days remaining on their jail sentence for the purpose of modifying their sentences to permit early release of such persons with or without supervision or to community-based organizations for treatment.
- With the assistance of justice partners, calendar hearings for youth returning to court supervision from Department of Juvenile Justice following parole consideration for a Welf. & Inst. Code, §1766 hearing.
- With the assistance of justice partners, determine the nature of supervision violations that will warrant “flash incarceration,” for the purpose of drastically reducing or eliminating the use of such an intermediate sanction during the current health crisis.
- Prioritize arraignments and preliminary hearings for in-custody defendants, and the issuance of restraining orders.
- Prioritize juvenile dependency detention hearings to ensure they are held within the time required by state and federal law.
- For routine or non-critical criminal matters, allow liberal use of telephonic or video appearance by counsel and the defendant, and appearance by counsel by use of waivers authorized by Penal Code, § 977. Written waivers without being obtained in open court have been approved if the waiver is in substantial compliance with language specified in section 977, subdivision (b)(1). (People v. Edwards (1991) 54 Cal.3d 787, 811; People v. Robertson (1989) 48 Cal.3d 18, 62.)
Recently, the Moran Law Firm had a client who was being held without bail; this client was additionally not being arraigned—in violation of his constitutional and due process rights. This directive, sent by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, gave the Moran Law Firm the authority to bring a motion on our client’s behalf—ensuring our client the opportunity to be heard in Court.
The significance of this directive is:
- It provides the authority to request the Courts lower bail amounts—including reducing bail to zero dollars—for many low and nonviolent offenses.
- It provides the authority to request a determination as to the nature of supervision violations warranting “flash incarceration,” for the purpose of drastically reducing or eliminating the use of such an intermediate sanction during the current health crisis.
In short, this directive allows bail to be reduced and offers inmates an opportunity to request release based upon health measures—similar to the Compassionate Release Motion at the Federal Level.
Due to the serious and easily transmittable nature of COVID-19, (and the inability of inmates to protect themselves against it), an Emergency Motion Requesting Immediate Release may be necessary to protect your family member or loved one who is incarcerated. Qualified candidates for this motion include persons with significant health risks, the elderly, persons with nonviolent offenses, persons with minimum sentences.
If you feel that your relative or loved one may benefit from this type of motion, please contact the Moran Law Firm for a free consultation. You may contact the Moran Law Firm via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via telephone at 559.264.2688.