While much of the city is locked down to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (the coronavirus), a lot of law enforcement operations are still underway. Everything is currently changing as things get worse or better, so it is difficult to say what government operations are still going on at any time. While many courthouses have shut down, other government operations, including arrests and criminal investigations, can’t stop for the virus. This means that if there is a criminal arrest warrant or a bench warrant for your arrest, you might still get arrested, even through all of this mess. Baltimore criminal defense lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras explain how police might still be executing warrants during the coronavirus pandemic.
Are Baltimore Police Serving Warrants During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
During the pandemic, it is expected that crime rates will go down since there are fewer people out and about. However, theft and the potential of looting is always a possibility, and with more people stuck inside with their families and significant others, increases in domestic violence charges are to be expected. This means that essential police operations like arrests and search and seizure operations are still underway in many cases, as are responses to violations of protective orders in Baltimore.
If you are to be charged with a crime and they have probable cause to arrest you, police might still execute an arrest warrant to take you in. In some cases, they might choose to delay your arrest, especially if you are a low-level offender. However, serious crimes are still being prosecuted at various stages, and defendants can still be arrested at home and have their homes searched for evidence during this time.
If you have a bench warrant in Baltimore, you could also be arrested. Gov. Hogan has issued shutdowns for nonessential businesses and a “stay at home” order to ask people to stay inside unless they’re leaving their house for essential tasks. As things progress, these orders could be enforced by the police, which would mean that you could be stopped simply for being outside. If you have a bench warrant, these kinds of stops could turn into an arrest at any time.
Getting Warrants Cleared During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Baltimore
If there is a criminal arrest warrant to arrest you at your home or a search warrant to search your home, there might not be much you can do. In some cases, your lawyer might be able to contact the police and work out an arrangement to turn yourself in after things clear up or settle some criminal issues remotely instead of subjecting you to the health risks of being arrested, booked, and sent to jail.
If there is a bench warrant for your arrest, there are other steps we might be able to take to get the warrant cleared. Usually, scheduling a new court date and agreeing to show up to court might be enough to get the court to clear your bench warrant. If they refuse, you might be taken into custody and given a new bail determination hearing before you can be released again. If your lawyer is able to get the warrant cleared and schedule a new court date, it might be a while before regular open court sessions are held during the shutdown. This could help you regain some freedom to go about essential chores and tasks without the risk of being arrested – but you will need to contact a lawyer and get help clearing the bench warrant first.
What Happens if I’m Arrested in Baltimore During the Coronavirus Outbreak?
Police and government officials are working to keep people safe during the coronavirus outbreak. In some cases, this means avoiding unnecessary arrests and even releasing non-violent offenders and people who are close to parole. If you committed a low-level offense or a non-violent crime and were arrested because of it, your lawyer might be able to keep you out of jail.
In most cases, there is no reason to lock someone up for a non-violent crime like theft charges or disorderly conduct charges, and police and prosecutors might be willing to allow defendants to stay out on bail or to pay fines and face house arrest instead of going to jail. In these difficult times, judges might be more lenient in allowing borderline defendants to stay out of jail right now.
If you are arrested, there is always a chance you will be denied bail and sent to jail or that you might have to sit in jail while you await a bail determination hearing. In either case, being in jail during this pandemic is not safe. Many jails and prisons are keeping people in their cells 24/7 and refusing to allow time for socialization during meals or exercise time, which can make every minute in jail seem like time in solitary confinement. Moreover, the risk of transmitting coronavirus between prisoners is very high, and it might only be a matter of time before every jail and prison in America is filled with the virus.
Now more than ever, keeping your freedom is incredibly important. Talk to a lawyer if you even suspect that you might be arrested for a crime in Baltimore or if you have a warrant or bench warrant for your arrest.
Call Our Baltimore Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help with a Warrant During the Coronavirus Pandemic
At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, we are committed to helping criminal defendants with their cases. We are open and will continue to remain open, serving the needs of the accused throughout the Baltimore area during this pandemic. If you were arrested or suspect that you might have a warrant, call our Baltimore criminal defense lawyers immediately. Call us at (410) 694-7291 to discuss your case in a free, confidential legal consultation and learn more about what we might be able to do to help with your case.