police car with lights on

How Has COVID-19 Changed Arrests and Arraignments in New York City?

No matter how it happens, being arrested and awaiting arraignment in New York is never a relaxing time in your life. During COVID-19, though, with limited courtroom availability, fewer staff present in court and holding, and the contagious nature of the disease – especially while being held in close quarters awaiting a court date – are downright anxiety provoking. Considering these very real concerns, it’s important you know what to expect if you are arrested in New York City for any crime until the pandemic is thoroughly under control.


Though the police have a strong presence near protests and other hotbeds of activity associated with COVID-19, they still continue to arrest people for other crimes as well. Though arrests themselves for normal crimes are still very much the same as ever, don’t be surprised if law enforcement takes extra precaution when they are required to be in physical contact or close proximity with someone in custody – in short, masks and gloves will likely be worn during an arrest, transport to a station for booking, and during processing when fingerprints, photos, and handling your personal property are necessary. After processing, arrestees are transferred to any of several facilities to be held until arraignment depending on where they are arrested. 


New procedures in place make arraignments vastly different than before COVID-19. In Manhattan, for example, there will likely be fewer people in the courtroom when you appear in front of the judge for the first time. It’s become more common for judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys to appear at the hearing remotely through Skype or Zoom and be shown on a large television on screen in the courtroom. Your attorney will be able to meet with you by videoconference before the arraignment starts, and that meeting is still subject to attorney-client privilege. 

After your meeting, the arraignment takes place and the matter of bail, advisement of your rights, and setting your next court date. If you are released without bail, you leave custody as normal. This is becoming more common in misdemeanor cases as opposed to leaving someone in custody to come up with bail before allowing their release.

New York Criminal Defense Lawyer

Any arrest should be appropriately worrisome– and not just because you have been taken into custody and are put into close contact with other individuals during a pandemic while your case moves to arraignment. Additionally, a criminal record can last a lifetime even though COVID-19 will pass in the future, so it’s important you retain skilled, knowledgeable counsel like the experienced criminal defense attorneys at MOWK Law to try and secure your release from custody as quickly as possible and fight for the best outcome in your case. Contact us today to learn more, have your questions answered, and get out in front of a bad situation.