California's New Law on Court Video Appearances in Criminal Cases AB-199

Jul 20, 2022

virtual-hearing.jpegCalifornia enacted a new law effective July 1, 2022. This law addresses court video appearances in criminal matters AB 199. This bill extends the courts’ ability to allow defendants and witnesses in criminal proceedings to appear remotely under certain circumstances. AB 199 still requires the defendant’s consent, and the court still maintains the discretion to require the physical presence of any defendant or witness in a criminal proceeding.

AB-199 provide for substantial amendments to Penal Code section 977, which previously, was the code section that provided for conducting appearances without the Defendant’s presence. 

Pushback from Judge’s

It’s going on two months since AB-199 became law. However, as a criminal defense practitioner, I’ve already experienced quite a bit of push back against this law. Some judge’s refuse to exercise discretion and allow for video appearances at all. Many have blanket prohibitions against it, without even allowing for any argument or consideration of the defendant’s physical location or financial burden of coming to court. It’s unfortunate, as this law allows for a more efficient use of technology to improve the way we conduct court proceedings.

In the context of video appearances, it becomes increasingly important to know, in advance, the disposition of the judge on the issue of appearing via video. For instance, you could end up with a bench warrant or failure to appear if you think you can appear via video and the judge doesn’t allow it. Knowing this information ahead of time is critical.

Instructions for Remote Appearances

The defendant and their Criminal Defense Attorneys, in misdemeanor cases if approved, may appear remotely for everything except a trial. As for felony cases, the same rules apply to the defendant and their attorneys as in misdemeanor cases, but the court may waive the defendant’s presence for parts of the trial where their presence is not necessary; this is mainly limited to portions of the trial where no testimonial evidence is taken.  On felony matters, a defendant is required to appear in person for sentencing.

Witnesses may also appear remotely to testify in any misdemeanor or felony criminal proceeding, with the exception of felony trials, and only with the consent of the parties on the record and the court. In addition, they may appear remotely as otherwise allowed by the statutes for the closed-circuit examination of victims of sexual crimes and conditional examinations of witnesses.

Court reporters however, must be physically present in a courtroom when the court conducts remote proceedings that need to be reported. The Trial Court Employment Protection and Governance Act is amended to ensure trial courts cannot retaliate against a court reporter for reporting technology or audibility issues.

In case of audibility or technology difficulties, remote parties may be required to come in person in case the court is unable to seek resolution for any issues in a reasonable amount of time. These difficulties the legislation aims to improve, and courts will now have a process for participants to raise concerns about any audibility or technology problems before and during a court proceeding.

How Can Your Criminal Defense Attorney Help?

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, and would like to take advantage of a criminal remote proceeding, contact us for a free consultation and how we can assist you with a waiver of appearance. We are committed to providing the best criminal defense for you.

Category: Criminal Cases

Michael Mitchell

Michael Mitchell is a Fresno attorney who practices in the areas of DUI, personal injury & criminal law. Visit his Google+ profile.

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Michael E. Mitchell, at the Mitchell Law Group, Inc., is one of the top DUI defense attorneys in Fresno, California. He has over a decade of experience handling DUI cases throughout the Central Valley, including in Clovis, Madera, Tulare, Visalia. He is a certified field sobriety instructor and practitioner under the standards of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and is a member of the California DUI Lawyers Association. His advice and knowledge is, routinely, sought after by other attorneys practicing in the area of DUI defense. He is an expert in the area of DUI defense in both Federal, State, and on the Appellate level. If you're looking for the best DUI Lawyer in Fresno to handle your case, give us a call today to see how we can put our knowledge to work for you.