COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Criminal Prosecutions in New York

March 25, 2020

By Jill K. Sanders, Esq.

COVID-19, the novel coronavirus causing a global pandemic, has effected criminal prosecutions in the state of New York. As discussed in our recent blog, we are closely monitoring the situation and advising our clients accordingly. Here are the updates as of March 25, 2020.


How State Courts Are Responding to COVID-19 In Criminal Matters

Since March 15, all non-essential functions of the courts have been postponed. Further, courts outside of NYC have consolidated to one location in each county. For Westchester, criminal matters are being heard in White Plains.

In criminal matters, only essential applications will be permitted. This includes applications for Orders of Protection and arraignments. It also includes bail applications and reviews, writs, re-sentencing of incarcerated defendants, and essential sex offender registration proceedings.

Arraignments in NYC are being held using video-conference equipment. It is anticipated that starting next week, such video-conference procedures will be used in Westchester. Otherwise, most criminal matters are being administratively adjourned. In some cases, the matters are being adjourned out into June of 2020. Moreover, papers are no longer being accepted for filing in non-essential matters.

The state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, remains open. However, the Court is following all necessary precautions. Attorneys who are unable to appear in person can contact the Clerk’s Office to request alternate arrangements.

Further, Governor Andrew Cuomo has suspended all state statute of limitations, including, “any specific time limit for the commencement, filing, or service of any legal action, notice, motion or other process or proceeding” until April 19, 2020.


COVID-19 and Federal Criminal Matters

The District Court for the Southern District of New York has courthouses in Manhattan, White Plains, and Poughkeepsie. The court has cancelled all non-essential matters. However, some case-related activities and naturalizations will continue. In criminal matters, appearances will be limited to the processing of new arrests, arraignments, bail appeals, and emergency matters. But jury trials will be adjourned, subject to a motion by a criminal defendant for an exception. Any other criminal matters will be held at the court’s discretion. Regarding spectators, now limited to family members and victims, they will be required to observe social distancing. Finally, attorneys may apply to appear by phone at arraignments or bail hearings.

The Eastern District has courthouses in Brooklyn and Central Islip. Only those with business at the courthouse will be allowed entry, and at-risk populations will be excluded from entry. Naturalization proceedings have been suspended, as have in-person attorney admissions. While certain criminal proceedings will continue, all petty offense cases will be adjourned. Jury trials will be adjourned, subject to a motion by a criminal defendant for an exception. Arraignments and emergency matters will be heard, as will other matters at the court’s discretion. Finally, certain matters may be heard using phones or other technology.


If You Need Legal Assistance

Even though courts are closed, your legal concerns are important and may be time sensitive. If you have a legal matter, please contact John at 917-940-5556 or Jill at 973-626-4088. You can also email us at We wish you all health and safety and will continue to serve your legal needs throughout this difficult time.