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New Jersey’s Municipal Courts

New Jersey’s Municipal Courts

If you get arrested for a crime in the State of New Jersey, your “day in court” will most likely take place in a municipal court in the city, town or township where you got arrested. The municipal court usually has jurisdiction over offenses that occur within the boundaries of its municipality.

Municipal courts in New Jersey deal with traffic and parking tickets, minor criminal offenses (for example, bad checks), municipal ordinances (such as barking dogs or building code violations) and other offenses, like fishing and hunting violations. That said, numerous serious criminal cases, like robberies, auto theft or assault, begin their journey through the justice system as complaints filed in the municipal court before they get transferred to the county’s superior court.

Irrespective of how you perceive the seriousness of a crime you’ve been charged with, you should have experienced legal representation at your side when facing a hearing in a New Jersey municipal court. Even disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey, which include the lowest-level violations of the law, carry penalties of up to 6 months in jail and cash fines of up to $1,000. Conviction will also appear on a criminal background check conducted by potential employers, lenders, public assistance providers, and others interested parties.

Spodek Law Group provides you with an overview of the New Jersey municipal courts system. Our team of experienced lawyers includes former prosecutors and public defenders with decades of experience in the New Jersey municipal courts.

If you or a loved one got arrested or ticketed in New Jersey and have a case coming up in municipal court, call us right away.  Someone is available to speak with you 24 hours a day, including on weekends. Our lawyers can step in promptly to uphold your rights and make every effort to avoid or lower any potential penalties.

What Cases are Heard in New Jersey Municipal Courts?

Matters heard in municipal court can be divided into four general categories:

  1. Motor vehicle and traffic law violations
  2. Disorderly and petty disorderly persons offenses (criminal matters which may result in fines or jail)
  3. Municipal ordinance (local laws) violations
  4. J. Division of Fish and Wildlife, Division of Parks and Forestry, Office of Weights and Measures, and boating and animal cruelty (SPCA) regulation violations

Indictable offenses are more serious than these and are sent from the municipal court to the county prosecutor’s office. The county prosecutor then decides whether to present the case to a Grand Jury or to send it back to the municipal court as a less serious offense. Cases that go before a Grand Jury usually results in indictments.  These are heard in the New Jersey Superior Court system.

 

In municipal court matters, a court appearance is always required in criminal matters, including assaults, shoplifting, harassment or simple drug possession charges. On the other hand, for most non-criminal matters, like traffic, boating and Fish and Wildlife violations, a fine can be paid by mail or at the court office.

If the “Court Appearance Required” box has not been checked on a complaint against you, or if the charge is listed on either the Statewide Violations Bureau Schedule or the Local Violations Bureau Schedule, you can pay a fine without appearing in court.

In some traffic or other matters, “Court Appearance Required” gets checked on the ticket, which means you need to appear at a scheduled court hearing, even if you wish to plead guilty.

If “Court Appearance Required” doesn’t get checked on a traffic ticket, you still need to appear in court if:

  • You wish to have a trial (when pleading not guilty).
  • Your charge is not listed on the Statewide Violations Schedule.
  • There is personal injury is involved (for example, you were charged in a car accident).

Regardless of what the charge is, a defendant should have and has a Constitutional right to a legal defense that seeks the best available results in court.

Our lawyers can represent you in any New Jersey Municipal Court statewide to protect your rights and to help resolve your case brought in a manner that is as beneficial to you as it can be.

Call Spodek Law Group for assistance with:

  • Disorderly Persons Offenses
  • Domestic Violence matters (domestic assault)
  • Providing Alcohol to Minors Charges
  • Fake ID Charges
  • Violations of City Ordinances
  • Small Claims Matters
  • Preliminary Proceedings in Felonies or any Indictable Offense

Keep in mind that your initial legal consultation with Spodek Law Group is always free. If a guilty plea is in your better interests, we will say so, but in almost all circumstances we can get a lower penalty than a defendant can on their own. Never go to a court proceeding without legal representation. Give us a call today!

What Can I Expect in a New Jersey Municipal Court?

The judge presiding over a New Jersey Municipal Court will begin every court day with an opening statement that explains court procedures, defendants’ rights, and possible penalties in cases decided by the court. Cases will then be called and processed, usually in this order:

  1. Requests for postponements
  2. Motions that are uncontested
  3. Primary arraignments
  4. Those entering a guilty plea
  5. Motions being contested
  6. Not guilty pleas with an attorney
  7. Not guilty pleas by unrepresented parties

As each case gets called, the judge will advise every defendant of his or her rights. Then defendant then has three options:

  1. Request a postponement. The judge will often agree to reschedule the court date to give the defendant a chance to obtain representation by a hired lawyer or a public defender (if they qualify) and to prepare their defense.

If you know you will need your case postponed, speak with court staff before the judge begins the court session. A prosecutor or staff member frequently ask those seeking postponement to come forward before the judge enters the courtroom, so that postponements can be dispensed with right away.

  1. Plead guilty to the charge. The judge will ask questions about the offense to make certain there is a basis for the guilty plea and to make certain the plea is voluntary. The judge will then make a finding and hand down a sentence.
  2. Plead not guilty to the charge. The judge will preside over a trial, which could be held that day or rescheduled for another day at the court’s discretion.

A trial in municipal court is held before only the judge.  This is known as a “bench trial.”

If you are found guilty, the judge imposes a sentence. You will need to pay all monetary penalties including fines and court costs. In some circumstances, the court might allow you to pay over time. The court staff will advise you of other penalties, including conditional discharge (probation), driver’s license suspension, community service, etc.

If you get sentenced to jail, the maximum term in municipal court matters is 6 months. The sentence is served in the County Jail or a Juvenile Detention Facility. The judge might allow a defendant to serve the sentence on weekends. Work release programs are coordinated through the Jail’s Work Release Administrator.

Never Go Before a N.J. Municipal Court Without a Lawyer

Being found guilty in a New Jersey Municipal Court can result in the loss of your freedom and financial hardship due to fines.  It can greatly harm your prospects for employment or eligibility for government benefits. Don’t ever respond to a citation or go to court on your own. Schedule a free, no-obligation legal consultation with any of our respected New Jersey criminal defense attorneys right away.


Charle Butler
Charle Butler
2021-03-12
Verified
I was hesitant to hire the Spodek Law Group. I read reviews and knew they have a great reputation. However, I thought I would spend money and not see or speak to my attorney. From the beginning to end of my case Todd and the entire staff were available and willing to help. We worked towards and end result that was way above my expectation and Todd delivered. I am forever grateful for patience and long days and night spent working on my case. Thanks Todd and the entire team!
Mesonista parsons
Mesonista parsons
2021-03-05
Verified
My attorney at Spodek was Abigail. She was very knowledgeable and helpful with all my questions and concerns, as well as responsive. Her fees are affordable and Abigail took the time to make sure I understood everything relating to my case. I highly recommend Abigail and will request her services in the future.
debabrata chakraborty
debabrata chakraborty
2021-03-03
Verified
Todd A Spodek is the experienced and best criminal lawyer at USA. He is very professional and always respond on time. Alex also very cooperative and always help me. They took care me and my problem like family member. I am 100% satisfied for their professional service. My result was unexpected and amazing. They dismissed my case. I am really grateful to them. I will recommend you to go there if you want to solve your problem. I wish all the best for them.
Asata Hendricks
Asata Hendricks
2021-03-02
Verified
Truly appreciate the work the guys did!. Exceptional team & I know they care about each and everyone of their clients. I am super thankful to be referred to Spodek Law Group and I am grateful Todd & Alex were able to work diligently to achieve an outcome I am pleased with. Despite COVID they stayed on top of things and kept me informed every step of the way. Very thankful.
Mike Moroff
Mike Moroff
2021-02-26
Verified
I'm very satisfied with the services rendered by Todd, Alex and Mary Lou. I whole heartedly recommend Spodek Law Group . I've worked with and have retained other attorneys in the past with Todd's firm being the cream of the crop for many reasons. A very serious legal matter was resolved after a year's hard work and effort. Todd expertly guided me through the process and was able to navigate and make the good journey bearable as well as successful. Mary Lou initially provided excellent assistance before referring my case to Todd. Alex's support was effective and timely. The customer portal (MyCase) is an invaluable communication tool that also kept track of my case. Various aspects of my case were explained and there were several options provided but I made the final decision of how the case would be handled. The legal fee was reasonable considering the effort and amount of work plus it was a flat fee regardless of the length of time required to conclude my case. Todd made himself available to me and we had many scheduled meetings to go over the progress and to discuss the next steps. I felt more confident after many discussions with him. You will not go wrong choosing Spodek Law Group for legal matters.
Josh Katz
Josh Katz
2021-02-24
Verified
Being that it was the first time that I was in need of an attorney, I was afraid and hesitant and knew I needed the absolute best. It is beyond understood why Spodek Law Group has a reputation of being the top, if not the best law firm in New York. Alex and Abigail were there every step of the way even at the most unconvenient hours. I could not have asked for more. They are extremely good at what they do and they delivered much much more than just winning my case. A big thank you to Alex and Abigail for all the guidance and counseling and their upmost loyal support that extended far more than just legally. If you need the absolute best than don't hesitate to hire Spodek Law Firm.
L.C.
L.C.
2021-02-24
Verified
I cannot tell you how thankful I am to Todd and Alex for their hard work and dedication to my case. I had never been in any trouble before but I had an unfortunate event occur and in the midst of COVID-19 at that therefore I knew I needed a team that was dedicated to my success. Today- my case has been finalized and I’m walking away with no record and can continue life as a mother and a Grad student worry free. I cannot express enough gratitude for their assistance.
AnnMarie Soliman
AnnMarie Soliman
2021-02-23
Verified
I received a summons and called Spodek law group for a free consultation. Alex took my call and was very quick and responsive. He was available anytime through multiple platforms and very reassuring when needed. They are extremely organized and thorough. They got my case dismissed! I’m very grateful. Thank you Alex and Todd!

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"Spodek Law Group have offered me excellent support and advice thru a very difficult time. I feel I've dealt with someone who truly cares and wants the best outcome for you and yours. I'm extremely grateful for all the help Spodek Law Group has offered me. I can't recommend them..."

David Bruce

"Spodek Law Group was incredibly professional and has given me the best advice I could wish for. They had been helpful and empathetic to my stressful situation. Would highly recommend Spodek Law Group to anyone I meet."

Rowlin Garcia

"Best service I ever had. Todd is absolutely class personified. You are in the safest hands with spodek. They have their clients interest in mind."

Francis Anim
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