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Coronavirus Pandemic Prompts More Citations Instead Of Arrests For Some Offenses In Santa Clara County

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- Santa Clara County law enforcement will issue citations instead of making arrests for a handful of offenses to promote safety and prevent jail crowding during the spread of novel coronavirus, the county court system announced Wednesday.

This includes anyone who would be arrested on a warrant for failing to appear in court for pending misdemeanors, diversion matters, or post-conviction matters other than violent felonies, and those who would be arrested for felonies with standard bail set at $25,000 or less.

Instead, law enforcement officers will issue a citation with a written promise to appear at a court date set eight weeks in the future.  Anyone on probation who is issued the citation will have to get in touch with their probation officer within two days.


"The intent of this order is to maximize the protection of health and safety for individuals working within and interacting with local court and custodial systems while balancing potential public safety risks attendant to own recognizance release in light of the COVID-19 pandemic," county court officials said in a statement.

The deferred arrests will not include those who would be arrested for failing to appear in court for offenses related to domestic violence, or those with bail set under $25,000 for violent felonies or driving under the influence causing injury.

The changes are in effect until May 3, which is the expiration date for the shelter-in-place order for Santa Clara and neighboring counties.  Santa Clara County is the hardest-hit of the region, with 890 cases and 30 deaths as of Wednesday.

The sheriff's office currently has 11 staff members with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to spokesman Sgt. Michael Low. Nine are deputies, with eight of those being in the corrections department. One of the eight has recovered and returned to work while the others are self-quarantining at home. A Main Jail inmate who tested positive for COVID-19 on March 22 has since recovered, Low confirmed.

The court suspended all non-essential functions beginning March 17, but its criminal, civil, family and juvenile justice courts are still open for essential services.


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