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Can the Government Shutdown Affect Your Pending Criminal Case in a Federal Court?

Okabe & Haushalter Jan 5, 2019 Criminal Defense

With the partial government shutdown in its third week and no end in sight, many Americans are concerned about how the shutdown might affect their criminal case in a federal court.

For those of you who have paid little to no attention to politics in the past three weeks, the U.S. government entered a partial government shutdown on December 22 after the Democratically-led House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, led by Republicans and President Donald Trump, failed to reach a consensus over a federal funding bill.

The government shutdown and its impact on the court system

Three weeks ago, President Donald Trump threw a wrench in the works by refusing to sign any federal funding bill that did not include $5 billion for the construction of the border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. With many experts fearing that President Trump might declare a “national emergency” to start building the infamous border wall, the promise of which was the cornerstone of Trump’s presidential campaign, it is unclear when the shutdown might end.

Regardless of whose side you are on and regardless of your political views, you may be wondering how the government shutdown affects the court system and thus can impact your criminal case in federal courts.

How does the shutdown affect federal courts?

Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer from Okabe & Haushalter says that “although state courts are operating normally during the government shutdown, the ongoing political crisis is expected to have a major impact on federal courts in California and all across the U.S.”

But how does the government shutdown affect your criminal case, exactly? Let us explain. Before we answer your question, it is important for you to understand what the government shutdown means for the court system in the U.S. Since most funding for the federal government, including the federal court system, comes from annual budget appropriations that are decided and signed by Congress and U.S. President, failure to pass a federal funding bill on time means that parts of the federal government will remain shut down until Congress passes budget appropriation bills.

Luckily, many government agencies received funding as part of a budget bill that was approved back in October 2018, which is why this government shutdown is called “a partial government shutdown” and which is how many federal agencies are still functioning… for now.

The government shutdown’s impact on the federal court system

But what about the federal court system? Has it been affected by the partial government shutdown, which has already stretched into the third week? Our experienced criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles explains that while the federal court system does rely on federal funding from annual budget appropriations, it is also partially self-sustainable as it collects funds from court fees and other sources.

In other words, the federal court system is still functioning during the government shutdown… more or less. But, understandably, this cannot go on forever. Not long ago, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts issued a statement warning that it has enough funding to run federal court operations through January 18.

When federal courts run out of money, each court will have to furlough some of its federal employees in order to stay afloat during the government shutdown. But what does it mean for you if you have a criminal case pending in a federal court in California or elsewhere in the U.S.?

How does the government affect your pending criminal case?

Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorney explains that your pending criminal case in a federal court will most likely not be affected by the government shutdown, as criminal cases are expected to move forward without interruption during the government shutdown.

However, it depends on how long the government shutdown will last. While prosecuting attorneys have been ordered by the Administrative Office to continue operations as usual, the longer the shutdown lasts, the higher the risk of interruptions, delays or suspensions in your criminal case in a federal court.

Speak to our criminal defense lawyer Los Angeles to evaluate the risks and determine how the partial government shutdown can affect your criminal case in the long run. Schedule a free consultation by contact Okabe & Haushalter today. Call our offices at 310-430-7799.