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Should I Attend My Crown Court or Magistrates Court Case?

Posted: 31 March 2020

What should you do during the Coronavirus outbreak if you had been bailed to appear at either a Crown Court or a Magistrates Court?

The Coronavirus outbreak has had a dramatic effect on criminal proceedings for both the Magistrates Court and Crown Court. On 23rd March 2020 the government announced social distancing policies and as a consequence the criminal courts in Essex are now trying to operate in a way that safeguards the health and safety of all participants in court.

As of 24th March 2020 the magistrates courts are only dealing with what they describe as urgent cases where someone is either in custody in a prison, or has been held in custody overnight by the police. Essex Magistrates Courts are currently adjourning any other case where a defendant was on bail to attend at either Chelmsford, Colchester, Basildon or Southend Magistrates Court between 24th March 2020 and 10th April 2020. Essex Magistrates Court should write to you to confirm that your case has been adjourned. If you need to contact Essex Magistrates Court you can call their administrative office on 01245 313300. If you are in any doubt about whether you should attend at the Magistrates Court before 10th April 2020 you should contact our office on either 01245 493959 or 01268 792994 and ask to speak to the team that is dealing with your case.

It is understood that Essex magistrates courts will review their arrangements to deal with defendants on bail by 10th April 2020.

As of 24th March 2020 Chelmsford and Basildon Crown Courts are not dealing with any cases where the defendant is currently on bail. The Crown Courts are doing limited work where the participants in the hearings are connected to the court via remote means such as telephone calls or video conferencing. In simple terms this means only defendants in prison are being dealt with. Cases where defendants are on bail are being adjourned to future dates. If you are in any doubt about whether you should attend at the Crown Court in the next few weeks you should contact our office on either 01245 493959 or 01268 792994 and ask to speak to the team that is dealing with your case.

It is unknown when the Crown Courts in Essex intend to start dealing with defendants on bail again.

Despite the Coronavirus outbreak the staff in our Criminal Department are still available for you to speak to by telephone or via video conferencing (Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, FaceTime, etc).

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