During the Covid 19 crisis our lawyers are available for telephone calls and video conferencing calls for new and existing clients. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any legal questions. Learn More.

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25 Year Anniversary

Coronavirus and its Effect on the Pennsylvania Criminal Justice System

With the global pandemic of Covid-19, aka Coronvirus, the criminal justice system, like the world, is enduring major changes. As the outbreak is a fluid situation, localCourts are instituting new rules on what seems like a daily basis and the practice of law is constantly changing.

The legal practice is considered an essential business if the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the attorney deem the matter to be an emergency.

The Experienced Attorneys at Ellis B. Klein &Amp; Associates are Still Assisting Clients During This Crisis.

We are continuing to give Free Consultations over the phone or via video chat, if you prefer. We will continue to maintain our high level of service and high client satisfaction rate during this crisis.

If you are charged with a crime or a traffic offense, please give us a call at (800) 536–0501 and one of our experienced lawyers will be happy to give you a detailed free consultation and answer all of your questions about your case.

Most county courts in Pennsylvania are closed to the general public, meaning an individual cannot just walk into the courthouse if they have court business. However, most courts are still operating with a skeleton staff which enables the system to process new criminal arrests, new traffic citations issued by police and to accept payments on fines through the mail. Individuals paying fines can also pay online via to UJS Portal payment system. If you have a criminal or a traffic hearing scheduled, you should check on the county court website to see if court is closed.

Many courts are open for emergency hearings but what qualifies as an emergency is up to each individual county. Police are still making arrests, but many police departments are not arresting individuals for minor offenses. The amount of traffic citations being issued to motorists are down approximately 50-75% depending on the county.

So, what constitutes an emergency for a court hearing to be scheduled?

Bail Reduction Hearings

Most courts are still conducting Bail Reduction hearings for individuals incarcerated who cannot pay the amount set for bail by the District Justice. Depending on the county, Bail Reduction hearings are usually held once or twice a week and a judge will hear argument from the defense attorney and the prosecutor to determine if the individual should post less Bail than what was initially set.

Parole Hearings

Parole hearings and emergency parole hearings are still be heard. Many incarcerated individuals are asking the judge to be released early on parole due to the coronavirus emergency, especially in those counties were the virus has been detected in the county prison.

Protection From Abuse (PFA) hearings:

Judges are still hearing Protection From Abuse cases, a.k.a. Restraining Orders, where it is alleged that the defendant was involved in a domestic assault situation. If the Judge grants a PFA order, a defendant can be excluded from his home by court order if a judge finds that it is necessary for the protection of the alleged victim in the case. Due to the stay at home order by the governor there has been a dramatic increase in simple assault domestic-related cases being filed in court. Due to people being constrained to their homes, and due to the stress of the situation, Simple Assault, Aggravated Assault, Terroristic Threats and Reckless Endangerment cases have had a dramatic increase.

Early Release From Prison

Recently, the governor enacted an order advising counties to release low level offenders from incarceration in county prisons, at least temporarily, while the emergency lasts. To date, approximately 30% of low level county inmates have been released. It is not clear whether these individuals will have to serve the remainder of their sentence at a later date. For those individuals not released by the county prison, an emergency Parole Petition can be filed and a judge will make the determination whether to release the individual from custody.

Suspension of Speedy Trial Rights Under Rule 600

Pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure Rule 600, an individual arrested for a crime must be tried within six months of the date the complaint was filed if they are incarcerated and within one year of the date the charges werefiled if the person is not in custody. This is generally known as the right to a “Speedy Trial” and is guaranteed by both the Pennsylvania and United States Constitutions. However, due to the “Judicial Emergency” declared by the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court, Speedy trial rights have been suspended and any postponement due to the coronavirus emergency does not count toward speedy trial rights. What this means is people can be held in custody longer than six months and it could take over one year for a criminal case to resolve for defendants who are out of custody.

Some counties are conducting hearings for individuals incarcerated by closed circuit TV. While they are not conducting trials, some counties are conducting evidence hearings, bail hearings and parole hearings remotely. Other counties are completely shut down and you should check with the county court website where you are charged to determine if your hearing has been postponed.

Probation/Parole Officers

For those individuals currently on Probation or Parole and who are required to meet with their Probation/Parole Officers, most counties are not requiring these meetings be done in person and most PO’s are conducting their check-in meetings over the phone. If you are currently on Probation or Parole, it is important that you stay in touch with your PO to avoid potential incarceration for absconding from supervision.

The effect of Coronavirus on the court system and the practice of Law is in flux. However, we the experienced legal professionals at Ellis B. Klein & Associates are still assisting clients remotely, either over the phone or via video chat. We plan to continue our high level of service through this crisis.

If you are charged with a crime or a traffic offense, please give us a call at 800–536–0501 and one of our experienced lawyers will be happy to give you a detailed free consultation. We would be happy to answer all of your questions and we will even quote you a fee and a flexible payment plan right over the phone.

Best of luck through this crisis and stay healthy everyone!

Client Reviews
★★★★★
Ellis Klein is a terrific attorney who represented my son in a DUI case. Ellis was understanding and sympathetic yet very forthright regarding the seriousness of the issue. He was extremely knowledgeable of the process and kept us informed at every step. He had a very professional presence, was confident (but not arrogant) and kept us calm throughout a very traumatic situation. He was a critical factor in my son receiving the best possible outcome from this DUI event. John Doe
★★★★★
Recently Mr. Klein helped me out with a criminal charge in which the outcome was the best possible situation for me. Ellis worked with me as far as a payment plan, knew the judge and officer and I couldn't ask for anything more out of a lawyer. I'm very happy with his performance and would recommend him to anyone. Jane Doe
★★★★★
Ellis literally gave me a new lease on life. I was facing a DUI, which would have affected my livelihood, my freedom and would have left me with a criminal record. Mr. Klein was able to have all the evidence suppressed by challenging the officer's cause for pulling me over. He was very thorough, leaving no stone unturned. His demeanor in court was confident and knowledgeable. He saved my reputation and my family from facing serious economic hardship. Thank You Anonymous
★★★★★
Ellis Klein served as my lawyer in a very difficult case that I was facing and with his help, the outcome of my case turned out wonderful. Mr. Klein helped me very much with his knowledge of my case. Thanks Ellis! Anonymous
★★★★★
Like many young adults, I made a bad decision that resulted in very serious consequences. I was afraid and nervous. Ellis was very straight-forward when he explained things to me, telling what the best outcome could be as well as the worst. Through his knowledge, professionalism, and legal reputation, my case was resolved with the best possible outcome. I advise my friends not to make the same mistake that I did, but if they do I will highly recommend Ellis. I feel like I have been given a second chance. Anonymous