How Harris County is Dealing With COVID Court DelaysPublished: Aug 17, 2020 in COVID-19, Criminal Defense
Being charged with a crime is never ideal, but going through the Harris County Court System in the middle of a pandemic makes the situation so much worse. If you, like thousands of others in Harris County, have found yourself with lingering charges and no end in sight, don’t lose hope.
There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Having an experienced and dedicated local criminal defense lawyer is always important, but it’s even more critical when the courts are facing backlogs. For personalized service and clear guidance about your Houston-area case, reach out to The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767.
We’re offer free and confidential consultations, where we’ll review your case, explain your options, and provide some clarity.
What’s Happening in Harris County Courts?
There are few untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic, but local court system face unique problems. Across the country, courts closed down or limited operations for months to reduce gatherings and keep court workers safe.
Unfortunately, now that courts are reopening, that means there is now a massive backlog of cases. People didn’t stop committing crimes during lockdown, so those cases are piling up behind cases already in progress when the courts closed their doors.
The Harris County Court is no different. The court was already moving sluggishly due to damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, and just as it started to bounce back, the pandemic hit.
Currently, there are more than 80,000 pending felony and misdemeanor cases in Harris County.
Will this Mean More Plea Deals?
There are some reasons for optimism. The Supreme Court of Texas extended the order to stop jury trials and jury selection through October 1, but Harris County is hopeful that trials will begin after October 1.
However, the site where jury selection happens is also the designated locations for a pop-up hospital if local hospitals are overrun. If that occurs, judicial proceedings will likely stop again.
To address this, there is some speculation that more plea agreements will be offered on pending cases in Harris County. This could decrease the backlog, allow people accused of minor crimes to move on quickly, and put the court in a better position to hear cases once operations resume.
Your Lawyer Needs to be Aggressive
What does this mean if you’re waiting to have your case heard?
Essentially, you need a lawyer who isn’t just waiting for Harris County to resolve your case.
While in some cases, you may be best served by going to trial, your attorney should explore every opportunity to secure the best possible outcome. This could be through a negotiated plea with the prosecutor, who likely want to reduce their caseload too. Or, your lawyer may aggressively pursue having the charges completely dismissed by highlighting weaknesses that a court hearing would ultimately show in the long run.
Remember, once the court backlog starts to clear, prosecutors still have to go through the work of trying those cases. It may not be a valuable use of time to try cases that have weak or minimal evidence.
Contact the Law Offices of Ned Barnett Today
At the Law Offices of Ned Barnett, we know how a stalled criminal case can delay your goals and leave you waiting. But our goal is to fight aggressively for the best outcome for every single one of our clients.
Attorney Barnett has decades of experience helping people move through the Harris County courts system and what it takes to secure the best possible result. Let us explore all your options and how we can help.