For the past two years, California courts have authorized remote proceedings. Remote proceedings provided a safe and effective way to handle the large volume of criminal court cases during the pandemic. In addition to providing a safe way to handle court cases, the remote proceedings allowed attorneys to effectively work on cases without having to travel to multiple courtrooms.
Just recently, the California Legislature, with the passage of Assembly Bill 199, authorized remote criminal proceedings to continue effective July 1, 2022.
The new law amends Penal Code sections 977 and 1043.5 and adds Penal Code 977.3. With the amendment to the law and addition of Penal Code section 977.3, courts may continue to use remote proceedings even after the emergency rules that became effective during the pandemic expired.
The changes to the law continue to require the consent of the defendant. The court also retains the authority to require the defendant to be physically present in court at any felony proceeding. The legislation will expire on January 1, 2024.
These new laws were and will continue to be highly beneficial in criminal cases. The rule changes not only benefit the attorneys who appear in criminal cases but also benefit the defendant and witnesses. In essence, the remote proceedings provide a safe and effective way to handle cases and limit the number of individuals required to appear in courtrooms across the state.
Unfortunately, many courts are no longer authorizing remote proceedings. The same courts that allowed the proceedings for the past two years and relied upon remote proceedings now believe that the defendant and counsel must appear in court.
While a defendant may still appear through counsel in most misdemeanor proceedings, we have seen many courts in Fresno, California, decline to allow remote proceedings for individuals facing felony charges.
Understandably there is a reason why in some cases a defendant should be physically present in court. However, there are several pre-trial matters where the defendant’s presence is unnecessary and results in court overcrowding overcrowd and a general slowdown of the court process.
If you have questions regarding the new changes in the law, or general questions regarding a criminal court case, please feel free to contact our office.