On December 22, parts of the federal government were shut down due to the inability of Congress to reach an agreement on a new budget. The GOP, led by President Donald Trump, refuses to agree to any budget that does not include funding for a southern border wall. Meanwhile, Democrats have held that they will not agree to a budget that funds the wall. Thus, the government shutdown remains in effect.
Regardless of your political views, you may be wondering how the government shutdown impacts the court system. State courts are operating normally. However, the same could not be said for federal courts. Let’s take a closer look at how your federal case may be impacted by the government shutdown.
What is the Government Shutdown?
Most funding for the federal government comes from annual budget appropriations that are decided by Congress. When Congress fails to pass budget appropriation bills or when the president refuses to sign those bills, the government may have to shut down until proper funding is available.
Many government agencies were funded as part of a budget that was approved for the fiscal year beginning in October 2018. However, some government agencies were not. Without an approved budget for those agencies, some of the 800,000 affected federal workers have stayed on the job without receiving payment for the time being and others have been furloughed.
So, where does the federal court system stand?
Federal Government Could Be Forced to Shut Down Soon
The federal courts system receives funding from the appropriations process, but it does not solely rely on it for its budget. That is because the courts also draw on court fees and other methods to collect funds. Thus, the federal court system has been able to continue functioning during the government shutdown. However, that may change very soon.
In a statement, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said that it would be able to run federal court operations through January 18. The federal court system has relied on its own collection of funds and delayed some “non-mission critical expenses” (such as new hires and non-case related travel) to continue operating. If the courts run out of money while the government shutdown is still in place, each court would be forced to evaluate which staff members and spending are necessary to “support its mission critical work.”
What does this all mean if you have a matter pending in the federal courts?
Are Federal Criminal Cases Affected by the Government Shutdown?
If you have a pending federal criminal case, your case will most likely be unaffected by the government shutdown. The Administrative Office said that criminal cases are expected to move forward without interruption and that prosecuting attorneys have been told to take the steps necessary to continue operations.
Although it is business as usual in federal criminal courts for now, the longer the government shutdown lasts, the higher the likelihood that your federal case could be impacted. Civil cases involving the government have already been suspended, postponed or held in abeyance until funding is approved.
Speak to an Experienced Federal Criminal Defense Attorney at Wallin & Klarich
If you have a pending federal criminal matter, you should contact a skilled federal criminal defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich immediately. Our knowledgeable federal criminal defense attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing federal charges for more than 35 years. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, our experienced federal criminal defense attorneys are available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Contact our law firm at (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation regarding your case. We will be there when you call.