Courts throughout Southern California are beginning to resume normal operation, even during a second wave of COVID-19 related shutdowns for other businesses. While Ventura County courts only offered essential services for a short time during the beginning of the pandemic, they are now reopened to the public. However, some significant changes in Ventura County courts may affect you and your criminal case.
At the beginning of the pandemic, many thought that court closures would cause a softening of law enforcement throughout the county. If this was ever momentarily true, that time has come to an end. Now, more than ever, it is imperative to have a private defense attorney to represent you. The courts in Ventura County are back to business and determined to keep their reputation as the toughest on crime in Southern California.
At the beginning of the first shutdown, in an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus, the Judicial Council of California had adopted a statewide emergency bail schedule that set bail at $0 for many misdemeanor and low-level felony offenses. The Judicial Council voted to rescind this and other emergency measures effective June 20. The Ventura County courts and local law enforcement are no longer observing the zero-bail policy; things have returned to pre-COVID normal. This means that officers are in full force, making arrests for every level of offense.
Since there is a continued risk of spreading the virus, there are new procedures and requirements that the Ventura Court has placed into effect. In most cases, we can appear on your behalf, and you will not have to be present in court. If you are required to appear at court, you will have to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. To reduce the chances of exposure, the court limits the number of people allowed in a courtroom. Without an attorney, you may end up sitting in the parking lot for hours, waiting for your case to be heard. The entrances to the courthouse have also changed based on the type of case you have and whether you have an attorney. When you retain our office, we will assist you in determining which parking lot you should use and which entrance is appropriate.
One of the biggest Post-COVID changes to the Ventura court is that they are allowing 977 appearances on felony matters. The procedural effect of this is that by retaining our office, you may not have to appear in court regardless of whether you were charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
Unlike misdemeanors, felony cases were never on a “freeze” due to the pandemic; the court, however, made modifications to standard practices to effectively reduce the number of people in the court and promote social distancing. It is important to note that while the initial process of how misdemeanors and felonies are treated is more similar in process, it has not charged the weight of a felony charge or potential punishment.
The risks of appearing without an attorney are greater than ever before. The coronavirus has changed everyone's life, but it has not changed the intensity of criminal charges. If you are arrested in Ventura County, contact our office as soon as possible. The earlier we can intervene, the more solutions we can provide. Depending on the circumstances, our attorneys may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed before formal filing.
If you are scheduled to appear in Ventura County, you need an attorney who believes in early intervention to get you the best possible outcome in your case and will always put your interests first, ensuring that your rights and your reputation are protected. Contact Ridley Defense today for a complimentary consultation at 805.208.1866.
Attorney Doug Ridley and his team will help you get through this, putting their unparalleled leadership and experience to work for you and your family. Right now, you need an attorney who knows the court and can help you navigate the new processes in Ventura County. Mr. Ridley is the top criminal defense attorney in Ventura. He currently sits as the President of the Ventura County Criminal Defense Bar Association and is the only private attorney on the mental health diversion board. As a former Ventura County Deputy District Attorney and lead prosecutor for the special victims unit, he knows how the other side thinks and the strategies they use to win cases. He is respected throughout the area for his ethical, passionate representation of his clients and his extraordinary knowledge of the law.
At Ridley Defense, we are here to help. We know that the criminal process can be overwhelming; let our experienced attorneys make it easier by working to get you the best possible outcome in your case. Our goal is to help return a sense of normalcy to your life. If you have been arrested for a crime in Ventura, contact our offices at 805.208.1866.