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Reasons You May Be at a Municipal Court in New Jersey
If you have a court date on your calendar, it is probably for municipal court. This is how most residents interact with the state’s legal system. The court hears various cases, and if you are found guilty, you could face fines, community service, and jail time. Go over some reasons you will find yourself in the court and the penalties you could experience.
Common reasons to go to municipal court
New Jersey’s municipal court system hears cases related to motor vehicle offenses, disorderly persons, and ordinance violations. Also, the court system deals with fish and game violations. In addition, some people are called to the court to serve as witnesses. Go over each possibility to learn what to expect during court.
Motor vehicle offenses
Many people end up in municipal court due to motor vehicle offenses. Common violations include speeding, lack of insurance, and reckless driving. Additionally, these courts oversee cases involving driving while intoxicated. In numerous other states, people charged with DWIs have the right to a jury trial. However, judges listen to the evidence and render decisions in Municipal Court in New Jersey.
Potential penalties vary based on the charge. For instance, speeding tickets often include a fine and points on the license. However, those convicted of DWI might be required to install interlock ignition devices. Fines and jail time are also possible with a DWI conviction. The penalties increase for second and third offenses.
Disorderly person offenses
People are summoned to court for disorderly person offenses. These are minor criminal offenses, such as shoplifting and simple assault. Other examples of disorderly person offenses include disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, lewdness, and writing bad checks. If convicted, residents can be sentenced to up to six months in jail and fined up to $1,000.
Fish and game violations
New Jersey residents must comply with the law when hunting and fishing. For example, residents must have a license to hunt and fish. Those who break the law can end up with a case in municipal court. The penalties vary but often include fines.
Municipal ordinance violations
New Jersey’s municipalities have ordinances that people must follow. If people violate the laws, they can end up in court. Common violations include disturbing the peace and littering. While these violations might seem minor, the court system can hand out stiff penalties. Those convicted can be fined up to $2,000 and spend up to 90 days in jail. Also, the judge has the discretion to order convicted parties to complete up to 90 days of community service.
Both the prosecution and defense can summon witnesses to the court. However, unlike a criminal trial, witnesses do not testify before a jury. Instead, they provide testimony in front of the judge, lawyers, and defendant. Witnesses are also subject to cross-examination.
Consult with an attorney before the municipal court
If you are scheduled to appear in municipal court, you do not have to handle the case yourself. Instead, an attorney can protect your rights during the case. Additionally, the lawyer can attempt to reduce or dismiss the charges. Consult with a lawyer before attending court.
Call us at (732) 449-0449 for more information from Anthony J. Cafaro, P.C. or to schedule a consultation in our office in Sea Girt. NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
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