Zoom Hearings in Illinois Criminal Trials During the Coronavirus Pandemic

A Chicago businessman decided to go out with his co-workers after work on Halloween weekend. He learned that Governor Pritzker would be imposing another indoor dining ban due to the increased spread of COVID-19 the coming week. Despite restaurant owners fighting back against the stringent second round of shutdowns, the governor has not backed down. Knowing that they would not be able to go out and eat in a restaurant for quite a while, they decided to enjoy several drinks together to celebrate a recent victory at work. He thought he was okay to drive home, but ended up being arrested for a DUI. He is now facing criminal charges and unsure how the process will work. Many courts are now operating using Zoom meetings for criminal hearings.

What is Zoom?

Zoom is an online video conferencing program that allows people to communicate through video meetings. Illinois courts have been using Zoom to conduct criminal hearings to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19. If you have been summoned to a Zoom meeting, you will need to participate in the meeting through the Zoom application on your phone or computer. The judge presiding over your case will control the virtual meeting. The Circuit Court of Cook County has stated that they will allow plea hearings to proceed through Zoom, and they will give preference to fully negotiated pleas when the defendant is:

  • In custody and receiving a probation disposition
  • In custody and receiving a “turnaround time” disposition
  • Receiving a misdemeanor disposition on a reduced charge
  • On electronic monitoring and receiving a probation disposition, or
  • On electronic monitoring and receiving a “turnaround time” disposition

If you are in custody, your lawyer will take steps to notify the Sheriff’s Department to ensure that you will be present for the Zoom meeting. If you are out in custody or you are on electronic monitoring, your lawyer will inform you of the location and time of your Zoom hearing. If you would like family members or friends to attend your hearing, they will be able to live stream your hearing through YouTube.

How to Prepare for Your Zoom Meeting

If you will be using the Zoom application for your hearing at your home, it is important that you make sure you know how to use Zoom. Your lawyer may “Zoom” into the meeting from his or her office separately. During the meeting, make sure that your name is displayed properly on your screen. The Judge will not know who you are if you have a name like “iPhone X” or “Ann’s iPad” in the name space. Also, make sure you are in a room with good lighting. Practice muting the microphone, and take time to learn how to turn your video on and off. You should also practice adjusting the sound. By taking the time to become familiar with Zoom, you will be able to have full attention and focus on your hearing .

Contact Our Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

When you need a lawyer, experience matters. If you are facing criminal charges in Illinois, the attorneys of Glasgow & Olsson are here to help. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.

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