Government Shutdown: Could Your Criminal Case Be Affected?

Before being able to understand how the government shutdown could affect you, it's important to know exactly what the shutdown is, what caused it and the full scope of its implications. As of midnight yesterday, Congress failed to meet their deadline to pass appropriations. Appropriations are laws that provide money to federal agencies. Because Congress did not pass any appropriations by the deadline, the U.S. government has since gone into a state of shutdown.

The primary reason for the shutdown is a stalemate between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans refused to pass a stop-gap bill unless the Democrats agreed to defund ObamaCare (aka: Affordable Care Act), which the Democrats refused to do. Until an agreement or compromise can be reached, the government will be shut down. While not all government programs will cease, many will feel a significant impact.

Offices such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the national parks have all had to close or place a significant percentage of its employees on unpaid furlough until the shutdown ends. The last shutdown was 17 years ago, another occurred just prior to this, both during the Clinton administration. One lasted for nine days and the other about three weeks. The longer the shutdown is allowed to continue, the more severe the implications will be.

While the most immediate effects of this shutdown appear to be financial, there are others that will no doubt "have a very real impact on real people right away," according to President Obama. As a Phoenix criminal defense attorney, I believe people have the right to know exactly how this shutdown could affect the federal courts and their criminal cases.

Since this is a government shutdown, the impact would be felt by federal courts, rather than state courts. This is the first distinction of importance. The second is that, according to the Justice Department, criminal litigation should continue without interruption while civil cases are the ones that could begin to be suspended should the shutdown continue.

Knowles Law Firm, PLC is committed to providing the highest quality legal representation to those who have been arrested for criminal offenses. If you or someone you care about is facing criminal charges, please contact our firm today for a free case evaluation with a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer.

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