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The Impact of Covid-19 on Criminal Cases

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Are the criminal courts still dealing with cases during lock-down?

The criminal courts are continuing to deal with cases throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Both the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts in Leicester are operating but they are dealing with only urgent matters. All non-urgent work is being adjourned until later in the year.


What cases is the Magistrates’ Court dealing with during lock-down?

The Magistrates’ Court is largely dealing only with remand hearings. This means that if a defendant is arrested by the police and then charged and remanded they will appear before the next available Magistrates’ Court. Defendants in these circumstances are appearing by way of video link from the police station. Advocates representing these defendants are able to attend for the hearings whilst maintaining a 2 metre distance from other court users and the court staff.

The Magistrates’ Court has now started to deal with a limited number of trials. In these circumstances a defendant on remand is produced in person at Court. Where defendants on bail, and witnesses for those trials, are required and able to attend they are to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Video conferencing facilities are being installed at the Magistrates’ Court in the hope that more matters will be able to be dealt with remotely as the lock-down continues.


What cases is the Crown Court dealing with during lock-down?

The Crown Court is not currently listing any trials however they are dealing with all other hearings where possible.

At the Crown Court most hearings are now conducted with the parties remotely. This means that the advocates for both the prosecution and defence will appear in court by way of video conferencing facilities. If a defendant is detained in prison they will appear via video link for the hearing. A defendant on bail will only be required to attend in person in limited circumstances, such as for a sentencing hearing.


Should I attend Court for my case during lock-down?

If you have a pending case at either the Magistrates’ or Crown Court then the relevant court will advise you as to whether your case is able to proceed. If your case is adjourned due to the pandemic the Court will write to you with a new hearing date.

If you are on bail and displaying symptoms of Covid-19, or are self-isolating or shielding, then it is important that the Court is advised of this so that you are not required to attend for your hearing which may still be going ahead. 


How can we help?

At Johnson Astills we are regularly updated by the Courts as to which matters are being listed and are advising our clients accordingly of any changes to their case.

In these difficult times our main concern is to ensure the health and wellbeing of our staff and clients. Accordingly we have temporarily closed our Leicester and Loughborough offices but we remain fully operational and continue to work remotely. We can still be contacted on our office numbers and by email and we are happy to arrange video or telephone meetings.

At Johnson Astills we can help with representation at every stage in criminal proceedings, from the police station through to court cases. We offer professional legal advice and have specialist solicitors who deal with the whole spectrum of criminal offences.

Representation at the police station is free, and legal aid may be available for your case at the Magistrates’ and Crown Court. For offences which do not qualify for legal aid we offer affordable fixed fees for appointments and representation at court.

Johnson Astills are experts in criminal law and are able to assist 24 hours a day at the police station and at court. If you need advice or assistance from the crime team contact our Leicester office on 0116 255 4855 or our Loughborough office on 01509 610 312.