TX Jury Trials Have Been Pushed to October Due to New Emergency Order
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many restrictions throughout the State of Texas and the United States in general, and legal proceedings are no different. Specifically, jury trials throughout Texas were suspended until September 1, 2020, and now, the Supreme Court of Texas issued an order extending that date to October 1, 2020.
Details of the Extended Order
Most jury proceedings are on hold until October, which includes both the jury selection process and jury trials. The order leaves room for a very limited number of trials to take place, as long as the following criteria are met:
- The judge requests an exception to hold a jury trial
- The trial includes reasonable measures to protect the rights of the parties involved
- The trial procedures comply with all guidelines for social distancing
- Steps are taken to ensure that jurors are not influenced by outside sources
- The Office of Court Administration (OCA) is allowed to observe the trial and report on the proceeding to help develop guidance for future court best practices
Some of these limited jury trials are being held remotely, and it is required that each remote juror has reliable technology that is adequate for their remote participation. In order to hold an in-person trial, the judge must first obtain permission and have an operating plan. All efforts should be made to hold trials remotely or postpone the matter. Judges are permitted to reasonably extend deadlines for filings up to 180 days following the expiration of the order.
How This Impacts Your Criminal Case
If you are facing criminal charges in Texas, you might worry about how the suspension of jury trials might affect your case. After all, most people want the criminal process to be over as soon as possible, so they know what consequences they are facing, and any delays can be stressful.
However, many criminal cases do not go to trial at all. There are other ways cases might be resolved, such as:
- Your defense attorney presents evidence and defenses, and the judge dismisses the case
- The prosecutor drops the charges due to legal arguments or evidence presented by your attorney
- Your attorney obtains a favorable plea deal with the prosecutor, and you decide to plead guilty to the charges
There are certainly times when it is appropriate to take your criminal matter to a jury trial. If the prosecutor cannot prove your charges to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury should acquit you, and you can walk away without any further concerns regarding this case. If you decide - with the guidance of your lawyer - to fight your charges at trial, you might be waiting a little longer until the order is lifted on October 1, at the earliest.
Learn More from a Fort Worth Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
If you are facing criminal charges, the law office of Kyle Whitaker is ready to help. Call 817-332-7703 or contact us online to seek help from an experienced Fort Worth criminal defense attorney.