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What to Expect During Your Criminal Trial Amidst COVID-19

During the Coronavirus pandemic, if you are scheduled to make a court appearance in a criminal trial at the Wake County Justice Center, you can expect to follow new public safety policies. All persons within the Judicial Facilities of the 10th Judicial District must abide by these policies to protect the health and safety of all Courthouse Personnel and members of the public.

Although your Raleigh criminal defense attorney should discuss these new changes with you, we encourage you to continue reading to learn about the three public safety policies updated on June 19th, 2020.* 

3 Public Safety Policies To Know Before Court

Ensuring the health and safety of all persons within the Wake County Justice Center is a top priority for the 10th Judicial District. Here’s what you can expect when appearing in court for a criminal trial.

1. Policies on Social Distancing

At all times within Judicial Facilities, you must:

  • Comply with signage and markings in courtrooms and common areas denoting six-foot social distancing spacing and requirements;
  • Comply with maximum public occupancy limits established for each courtroom;
  • Limit in-person interaction at distances less than six feet with others to only those instances where necessary; where such in-person interaction is necessary, use reasonable measures to keep yourself and others safe; and
  • Abide by any courtroom-specific health and safety instructions as established by judicial officials or courtroom security personnel.

In addition to the above, Courthouse Personnel should:

  • Refrain from large in-person social gatherings in Judicial Facilities; and
  • Refrain from inviting social visitors / guests to Judicial Facilities who are not otherwise conducting court business; and
  • Refrain from bringing children to Judicial Facilities.

2. Policies on Masks / Face Coverings

As mandated by the City of Raleigh’s Emergency Proclamation of June 17, 2020, you are required to wear a clean face covering upon entering any Judicial Facility and at all times while inside.

Appropriate Face Coverings

An acceptable “face covering” is one recognized by the Center for Disease Control or the City of Raleigh’s Emergency Proclamation of June 17, 2020, as helpful in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in public settings. You may wear a medical or single use medical-type face mask. If fabric, the face covering should:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be washed and dried without damage or change to shape

Exceptions to Face Covering Policy

Face coverings are not required:

  • For people whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering;
  • For those who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical or behavioral condition;
  • While dining or eating or consuming food or beverage;
  • In private, individual offices provided that no other person is within six feet;
  • When complying with directions of law enforcement officers; or
  • While conducting official business where the wearing of a face covering impedes communications, or is not feasible, or as directed by the presiding judge or judicial official;

Deputy sheriff / law enforcement personnel and security personnel are also authorized to require the removal of a face covering worn by any person if, in their discretion, the face covering poses a security concern, impedes identification, or otherwise interferes with the administration of justice within Judicial Facilities.

Deputy sheriff / law enforcement personnel and security personnel shall deny entry into Judicial Facilities, or remove from Judicial Facilities, any person who does not comply with the requirements of this Masks / Face Coverings Policy.

3. Presence of Covid-19 Symptoms

You are not allowed to enter a Judicial Facility if you have had symptoms of COVID-19 within the prior 72 hours, or risk of exposure to COVID-19 within the last 14 days. 

  • The symptoms of COVID-19 include: 
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Chills
    • Repeated shaking with chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • New loss of taste or smell
  • Risk of exposure to COVID-19 includes:
    • Persons who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19
    • Having contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Living in or visiting a place where COVID-19 is spreading.

Court Personnel who have symptoms or exposure to COVID-19 must:

  • Not report to the Judicial Facilities, and
  • Promptly notify their supervisor about their symptoms or exposure.

Talk to A Raleigh Defense Attorney Today

If you are scheduled to make a court appearance for a criminal trial in Wake County, you likely have concerns about how you can stay safe and healthy throughout the proceeding. The experienced attorneys at Manning Law can help you navigate the new public safety policies put in place while offering expert defense litigation. And in certain situations, you may even be able to avoid going to court if you hire an attorney. Contact us today to discuss your case specifics with one of our attorneys and determine whether you will need to make a court appearance.

To learn more about the most recent Wake County COVID-19 updates and how criminal trial proceedings have been affected, read the 10th Judicial District COVID-19 Public Safety Policies. 

*These public safety policies will remain in effect until further notice and are subject to change at any time to reflect current medical and safety advice and guidance.

Taylor Manning
The content on this page was reviewed by Manning Law Firm, PLLC partner Taylor Manning. You can learn more about Taylor's experience and expertise on his bio page.