Texas Trials Going Digital
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly everything related to the normal way of doing things. From wearing a mask in the grocery store to not being able to go out to eat, to having to work from home, to deciding to homeschool children, and more, there is no doubt that life is much different today compared to how it was a year ago. For those who have been arrested and charged with a crime, the criminal process has also been affected. Today, those who are incarcerated have been put at high risk of contracting the virus, and many of those scheduled to stand trial have experienced significant delays. In order to ensure defendants’ rights to due process, Texas trials are going virtual. Here is what you should know.
First Trial Just an Experiment
Before a decision is made to move all trials to the virtual world, court administrators have decided to start with just one criminal jury trial, which has been regarded, perhaps unfairly to the defendant, as a “closely watched experiment brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.” At the conclusion of the first case, court administrators hope to be able to pass on some learned lessons and best practices to other courts throughout the state, according to an article in Bloomberg Law.
Concerns with a Virtual Trial
Whether or not a virtual trial will be constitutionally appropriate remains to be seen (remember, though, that closed courts and delayed trials also created constitutional concerns). Some have raised concerns about the rights of criminal defendants who may be subject to an online trial. These concerns include:
- Breach of the guarantee of an impartial jury. Jurors may be distracted by their phones and other events in the home. As it is, social media and constant access to information already challenge a defendant’s right to an impartial jury.
- Challenges in communication. When a defendant is sitting side-by-side in the courtroom with their attorney, they have the option of communicating with them at any point during a trial. During a virtual trial, on the other hand, this may prove to be much more complicated.
- Tech glitches could impact the case. Technology glitches, including frozen screens and software crashes, are all too common. A technology glitch could impair a defendant’s Constitutional rights in some cases.
Make Sure that You are Represented by a Qualified Texas Attorney
If you have questions about the criminal process in Texas or if you are waiting to stand a trial that may be virtual, the best thing that you can do to prepare yourself and protect your best interests is to hire a qualified criminal defense attorney. While no one really knows what to expect with virtual trials, an attorney will know if your Constitutional rights are being violated and what to do about it. COVID-19 or not, you are entitled to a trial that is fair.
At the law office of Brent D. Bowen, Attorney at Law, our experienced criminal defense attorney cares about you. If you are facing criminal charges, call our law firm for an advocate on whom you can rely.