The coronavirus, or COVID-19, has certainly had a major impact and created new challenges on the American legal system, particularly the criminal justice system.
The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia recently entered an Administrative Order continuing all civil and criminal trials, as well as jury orientations, that are scheduled from March 16 through April 10, 2020, except those where a criminal defendant’s speedy trial rights may preclude continuation of such trial. For example, a criminal defendant who has invoked his or her speedy trial right is still afforded the opportunity for a trial during this time period.
With the exception of emergency matters, all other hearings scheduled during this period of time are required to either be 1) postponed to a date after April 10, 2020, or 2) held by remote, telephone, or video technology.
The Supreme Court’s Administrative Order further affords the lower courts with the authority to take further steps to manage their docket and proceedings in a manner designated to protect the health and well-being of all those involved. As a result, most courts are continuing all hearings previously scheduled between March 16 and April 10, 2020.
Any individual charged with a crime still must be taken before a magistrate to be arraigned “without unnecessary delay.” As another example, an individual charged with a felony offense still has the right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days if incarcerated and unable to take bail or 20 days if released on bail.
Anyone with a hearing currently scheduled between March 16 and April 10, 2020 should contact his or her attorney to confirm whether it will take place as previously scheduled.