As the criminal court closure has extended now for over 6 weeks, and with no end in sight many clients who have pending diversionary programs are being adversely impacted. Given the tight job market, having a pending criminal case could make finding a new job more difficult or impossible. Also, many clients may have to renew green cards or have other immigration situations which may be adversely affected. In this blog, I am going to give some guidance for what our clients and others can do about the situation.
Courts Have Been Closed Since March 20
Connecticut criminal courts have been closed since March 20 with no firm date or plan to re-open the Courts yet confirmed. (Courts have been handling only arrangements). Clients who have pending cases and are enrolled in diversionary programs which as the accelerated rehabilitation program, family violence education program, and pretrial alcohol education program and others may have already passed their originally assigned termination dates for these programs when the charges could have been dismissed. Because the courts are closed there is no one to verify that you have successfully completed the requirements of the program and no judge to enter an order dismissing your charges.
Clients Cases will Remain Pending Until Courts Reopen
There is no way to get these cases dismissed until the courts re-open. Since the cases remain active and appear on the judicial branch web site and on FBI arrest records they are likely to affect job searches. As of this writing up to 15% of the workforce is unemployed due to the health emergency and may need to look for a new job. In a very competitive job market, having an open criminal case could make finding a job much more difficult.
What Can You Do?
The most important thing you can do is make 100% certain that you have completed all of the requirements of your program. If you did not complete community service hours or a MADD VIP course this is a great time to get that done. Many of the course providers including the alcohol education program and family violence education program have commenced online courses to promote social distancing. Make sure that you get all of your requirements completed and also make sure that you send copies of proof of compliance to either the bail commissioner, the office of adult probation, or family relations (depending on which program you are in).
If you are seeking employment at this time or having immigration issues that are being affected by the pending criminal case contact your lawyer to let them know about your situation. While the courts have been pushing pending criminal matters out 60 to 90 days it is possible to petition the court clerk to have your matter heard sooner in the event that you are being adversely impacted by the continued pendency of the criminal matter.
The Courts will Start Automatically Dismissing Cases
The Judicial Branch has recently announced an initiative that will involve the screening of cases that are eligible for dismissal. These cases will be automatically dismissed without the need for the defendant or attorney to return to court – but only if you have completed all of the requirements of your diversionary program:
- Community service hours
- MADD Victim impact panel
- Any other conditions
We are Here to Help!
If you are self-represented or can’t get in touch with your former lawyer who handled your case feel free to contact our office if you require assistance in getting your pending criminal case dismissed faster.
Please stay healthy and remain safe. While we are going through hard times together we will get through this and better days are ahead.
If you have any questions we are here to assist you.