How COVID-19 (coronavirus) affects Colorado DUI and Criminal Court Cases

Do I have to appear in Court due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic?

Probably not if court hearing is scheduled in March or April. As of March 17th, most courts in Colorado shut down and are operating on a limited basis. Some jury trials and hearings involving in-custody defendants are still taking place. The other court hearings are, for the most part, being continued by the court. The burden, however, is on the defendant to contact the court or file a motion to continue. If the court doesn’t continue a hearing, and the person does not appear for court, a warrant is issued for that person’s arrest.

How do I continue my court hearing due to the COVID-19 and social distancing?

Your attorney must file a motion to continue with the court, and the motion must be ruled on by the judge prior to the court hearing. If you do not have an attorney, you must file the motion or otherwise contact the court. The court clerks are continuing some court cases without motion, so it is always best to contact the court where your case is pending directly.

Under what circumstances should I not appear in court even when the court has not continued my case?

This is really a case by case question. Most courts are posting the following advisement on its COVID-19 announcements:

(1) you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 (“Novel Coronavirus”)
(2) you have been in direct contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the past fourteen days;
(3) you are experiencing a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or any other respiratory illness symptoms.

What if I can’t comply with probation or pretrial supervision/monitored sobriety due to COVID-19?

A person’s obligation on probation is to comply with all requirements. These requirements, however, often require travel to testing facilities, probation offices, DUI education classes, or other court-related and community obligations. If a probationer or defendant on pretrial supervision is sick, or part of a particularly vulnerable group, courts should look at whether the person is acting in good faith in attempting to comply. If compliance of some terms of probation or pretrial is impossible due to circumstances outside anyone’s control, then no revocation complaint can justifiably be filed.

My license was revoked, and I can’t get it back because the DMV is closed due to COVID-19. What do I do?

The Department of Revenue is open remotely, and is scheduled to reopen to the public on April 18, 2020. Updates can be found on the Department of Revenue website.

Can my case be dismissed due Coronavirus?

Some cases could be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Most cases will not come up to constitutional or legal deadlines that will cause dismissal. The pandemic will undoubtedly cause a ripple in the criminal justice system, whether it be the unavailability of witnesses, speedy trial issues, officer unavailability, and clogged dockets once the courts reopen fully. Many clients will see better outcomes in cases currently pending due to the continuances and strain on the justice system. There are currently two cases where the Colorado Supreme Court will rule on whether a court can extend speedy trial due to the pandemic, and a new rue-change that allows a court to declare a mistrial, hence extending a defendant’s constitutional speedy trial deadlines, if there are not jurors available due to the pandemic. Ultimately, it is unlikely that your case will get dismissed because of the pandemic.

Can my DMV hearing proceed if the DMV is closed?

If you have a pending DMV hearing from a DUI case, the hearings division is conducting some hearings by phone and continuing other hearings for the future. If the DMV continues your DMV hearing, and you are driving on a temporary permit, the permit will be extended to the new hearing date and time.

Can I be released from jail due to COVID-19?

This is a possibility. In order to promote social distancing, and to consider the safety of all individuals, some judges are considering sentence reductions, or extensions on the start of jail sentences (stays of execution), converting jail sentences to house arrest, and alternative sentencing for pending cases (in-home detention or electronic home monitoring).

If you have a pending court case, contact Tiftickjian Law Firm for help continuing your case due to COVID-19, and ultimately getting you the best result possible in court and with the DMV.