What Could COVID-19 Mean for Your OUI Case in Massachusetts?

If you are facing an OUI charge, your day in court is an opportunity to fight for your rights and to secure the best possible outcome for yourself and your family. In these uncertain times amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this has never been more important.

If you have a current open OUI case or if you have recently been charged with an OUI, it is crucial for you to understand what is occurring throughout the Trial Courts in Massachusetts.

On March 17, 2020 the Supreme Judicial Court issued a standing order closing all courts for non-emergency matters until at least April 6, 2020 in order to control and limit the spread of COVID-19. Further, most criminal matters scheduled through May 1, 2020 for a person not held in custody shall be continued to a date no earlier than May 4, 2020. Additionally, all jury trials scheduled through April 17, 2020 have been ordered to be rescheduled no earlier than April 21, 2020. Clerks’ offices are open only on a limited basis for emergency matters through April 6, 2020. However, our office is still able to communicate with the clerks’ offices to follow up on the status of your case.

What does this mean for you if you have an OUI case

Matters scheduled through April 6, 2020:

  • Arraignments for persons held in custody will be conducted via phone or video conferencing. For persons released on bail, the Court will provide a later date to appear for arraignment.
  • Summons arraignments on criminal complaints shall be continued
  • Pretrial hearings, motions and reviews shall be continued
  • Evidentiary hearings shall be continued
  • All bench trials and jury trials shall be continued
  • Probation violation hearings where detention is sought for persons arrested on a warrant or for a new crime shall be held via phone or video conferencing
  • Warrant removals for persons under arrest shall be held via phone or video conferencing
  • Probation warrants shall remain in effect until the courthouse resumes normal operations
  • A person seeking to post bail for a person held in custody is permitted to enter the courthouse
  • A person who is ordered by the Court to be monitored with a SCRAM device is permitted to enter the courthouse for initial set up
  • Any orders of the Court issued before March 18, 2020 with a hearing scheduled during this time are to remain in effect until the hearing is able to be rescheduled

Matters scheduled from April 6, 2020 through May 1, 2020:

  • Arraignments for persons held in custody will be held in the normal course or via video conferencing
  • Arraignments for new arrests where the person is released on bail shall be conducted in the normal course, unless the Court, in its discretion, issues a later arraignment date
  • Summons arraignments on criminal complaints shall be continued
  • All bench trials, evidentiary motions, dangerousness hearings, and guilty pleas or admissions to sufficient facts for a person in custody may be held in court as scheduled
  • Default/warrant removals should be processed in the normal course
  • Motions to revoke bail or conditions of release should be conducted in the normal course, including by videoconference when the person is in custody
  • Warrants may be requested in the normal course
  • Probation violation hearings may be scheduled in the normal course or, if previously scheduled, conducted in court as scheduled, except that a probation violation hearing for a person in custody shall be conducted by videoconference
  • Specialty court sessions may be held in court as scheduled
  • All non-evidentiary events scheduled for a person in custody shall be conducted as scheduled by videoconference
  • Any orders of the Court issued before March 18, 2020 with a hearing scheduled during this time are to remain in effect until the hearing is able to be rescheduled

Attorney Bernard and Attorney Bruno have continued to work with clerks’ offices around the state despite the public shutdown of the courts to push cases forward. This has included securing continuances and promptly communicating those dates with our clients.

In addition to working with the courts, Attorney Bernard and Attorney Bruno have been in contact with the Registry of Motor Vehicles in order to discuss virtual hearings so that clients can reclaim their driving privileges as soon as possible. The Board of Appeals is currently trying to convert hearings into a telephone or video conference.

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