Criminal Hearings and the Courts During COVID-19

Did you know the Utah State Court has an informative website where you can find information on civil and criminal cases, self-help forms, contact information for the court, and many other helpful sources? The website if I recently spent some time on this website to look closer at how the courts handle criminal procedures in light of COVID-19. When going to the website and inquiring about this, I was directed to the Court’s Alerts and Information Page. I found a standing Order for the Salt Lake Justice Court which highlighted the following about In-Custody Defendants and Out-of-Custody Defendants:

In-custody Defendants. The court will continue to perform all mission-critical functions for in-custody defendants, including, but not limited to:

• Probable cause review of warrantless arrests,

• Bail hearings,

• Bench warrant hearings,

• Arraignments,

• Appearances mandated by statute, and

• Sentencing hearings.

During the red phase, all hearings set for in-custody defendants will be re-set on video-conferencing calendars to minimize the risk to vulnerable populations, meaning all transports during that period are canceled. The parties are directed to immediately inform the court if this court is holding any in-custody defendants so the court can reconsider the defendant’s custody status. This process intends to supplement the court’s ongoing review of its records of in-custody defendants.

Out-of-custody Defendants. • Exigent Circumstances Hearings. All exigent circumstances hearings that cannot be accommodated by teleconference or video-conference will be handled in-person on Wednesday mornings at 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom 1. No other in-person hearings will be conducted in the red phase. • Arraignments. i. Traffic. Defendants who are issued a traffic citation during the red phase are ordered to pay or schedule an arraignment within 14 days of the date of the citation using this link:

You may pay by mail, in person, or visit our website at ii. Misdemeanor/Criminal. Defendants who are issued a misdemeanor/criminal citation during the red phase are ordered to schedule an arraignment within 14 days of the date of the citation using this link:

This is simply a small excerpt from the court’s website. However, I encourage you to go in and explore it for yourself. You will be able to find out how to attend a Court hearing remotely, view the FAQ section, find out how to file documents and pay fines, and view the color-coded Court map.

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