The criminal justice system (CJS) is in chaos. COVID-19 had turned the usual order of how courts run their business upside down. Worse, over 130 probation officers supervising 164,000 probationers are closed. No one can do community service work and many other requirements due to social distancing.
Then there is the issue of money. Many people on probation have lost jobs and businesses. Virtually no one can comply with probation. The State of Florida is about to face over 150,000 probation, community control and misdemeanor court violations of house arrest.
The Point: The CJS literally cannot lock hundreds of thousands of people up for probation violations as they have in the past, but they are planning on locking up as many as they can.
This is a big deal if you have a minor underlying charge and less prior record rather than more. Expect courts and prosecutors to prioritize jail and prison sentences differently than they have in the past, but not uniformly across the U.S at all once.
Some prosecutors, judges, and probation officers will need to have the reality of unmanageable caseloads smashed into their faces first, but more are going to be forced by circumstances to do things differently.
CAVEAT: the phrase “you never go to violation court without a skilled lawyer” is still true, now more than ever.
TIP #1: Hire legal counsel early and look for law firms where the lawyers and attorneys are supervised by someone who specializes in criminal law.