Can You Avoid Jail in New Hanover Because of COVID-19?

Written by Thom Goolsby

Criminal Defense

The global pandemic has touched every area of daily life, including the criminal justice system. While COVID-19 isn’t a “get out of jail free” card, depending on the seriousness of your charges, you may avoid time behind bars during this crisis and into the future.

As of April 22, 2020, North Carolina had more than 7,220 confirmed cases and 242 deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, according to state health records. While only 62 of those cases were in New Hanover County, government officials recognize that inmate populations are among the most vulnerable. Cramped quarters, a lack of hygienic resources, such as the ability for frequent hand-washing, and the revolving door of inmates, staff and visitors provide a perfect storm for the spread of COVID-19.

If you are arrested during the pandemic or have been dealing with charges that originated before the court closures, Wilmington criminal lawyer Thom Goolsby is here to help you. The Goolsby Law Firm will fight to keep you out of jail so your chances of contracting COVID-19 are reduced. With more than 27 years of legal experience in and around New Hanover County, Attorney Thom Goolsby knows the local court system and how to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Free consultations are available 24/7 by calling (910) 763-3339, sending a text, or contact us online.

Arrestees and Inmates in New Hanover

While some parts of North Carolina have focused on releasing non-violent offenders and inmates at high-risk for COVID-19, in Wilmington the focus in late-April remained on reducing the number of people entering the jail. Prosecutors were reportedly also pushing defendants to accept pleas to avoid jail time. Accordingly, it is vital that if you find yourself facing jail or incarcerated while awaiting trial you secure a criminal defense attorney to work for your release.

In New Hanover, some bond reductions have occurred in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19 though the jail population, as reported by local news. Also, local courts have been modified to reduce the number of people at bond hearings. By reducing the number of low-level offenders, officials look to spread thin resources to the remaining inmates.

Even in the best of times, whether waiting for trial or after conviction — avoiding jail is always a top priority. Being incarcerated, even for a few days while awaiting bail, could have serious consequences, such as job loss or creating an issue with custody arrangements. Now, it also could be a serious health risk to you and your loved ones should you contract the disease while jailed and then carry it home.

What Should You Do If Arrested During The Pandemic

The stress of dealing with COVID-19 is difficult enough, but add-in trouble with the law, and you have a serious situation. If you are arrested during this time, stay calm and follow these guidelines:

  • Ask the arresting officer if you can receive a citation, rather than be processed at the jail.
  • Do not make any admissions.
  • If taken to jail, remain silent except to ask to call an attorney ASAP.
  • Do not speak to police or the prosecutor without your attorney present.
  • Resist offers to plead guilty in exchange for being released.
  • Remember to practice as much good hygiene as possible while awaiting release — hand-washing (if available), not touching surfaces, keeping hands away from your face, and if allowed, use a makeshift mask.

Depending on the situation, an experienced Wilmington criminal defense attorney from The Goolsby Law Firm can likely secure your release. But, you must act swiftly to limit possible exposure while in jail.

We Are Here to Help

While the presence of COVID-19 does not mean you automatically avoid jail, in many cases it may decrease your chances of being incarcerated to await trial or result in lesser charges that do not carry jail time. Having to spend any time locked up during this dangerous time is something you want to avoid at all costs.

Don’t take any chances with your health and well-being. If you are in legal trouble, contact the Goolsby Law Firm for a free consultation by calling (910) 763-3339.

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    212 Walnut St. Suite 100
    Wilmington, North Carolina 28401

    Like any quality criminal defense attorney, Thom Goolsby may be in court when you first call, but leave a voice mail or send a text. We’ll get with you as soon as possible, so we can go over what happened, evaluate the case, and explain what comes next.