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What Types of Cases are Heard in Municipal Courts in New Jersey?
For many people, the municipal court is an intimidating concept. They hear the word “court” and immediately associate it with something severe. In reality, the municipal court is a much less stringent section of the New Jersey court system. Having a municipal court attorney by your side can maximize your chances of success.
What cases appear in municipal court?
In general, New Jersey municipal courts hear four categories of cases:
- Motor vehicle and traffic law violations
- Disorderly and petty disorderly persons offenses (think of these as lower-level criminal infractions that still might result in monetary fines or little jail time)
- Violations of New Jersey’s fish and game laws, parks and forests laws, weights and measures laws, SPCA, and various boating regulations
- Violations of New Jersey’s local laws at the municipal level
Do I have to appear in municipal court, or can I just pay the fine?
It is critical to keep in mind that municipal court is still technically considered a judiciary branch of the New Jersey court system. As such, a court appearance is always required for criminal matters, such as shoplifting or harassment. Whether or not a court appearance is necessary depends on the offense and will be indicated on the ticket. Failure to appear to a required court appearance may put the individual at risk of increased punishment.
What are the possible municipal court punishments?
Municipal court judges follow the law when determining the punishments, including any fine amounts. Other possible penalties include monetary fines, jail time, driver’s license suspension, community service, and required drug and alcohol awareness courses.
Courts typically expect an offender to pay any fines once a judgment has been issued. If the offender is unable to pay the entire fine at once, the judge may give them the option of paying in multiple installments. In such cases, a court order will explain the terms of the repayment schedule. If the offender does not adhere to this schedule, they risk a warrant for arrest and possible suspension of their driver’s license.
Municipal courts can also impose jail time with a maximum incarceration period of six months to be served at the county jail or juvenile detention facility. Additionally, offenders who have their driver’s license revoked will be prohibited from driving for a specific period and must pay a fee to restore their license. The courts may also require offenders to complete a certain amount of community service hours for some traffic offenses or criminal convictions. For traffic violations only, or if the offender refuses to take a breathalyzer test, a municipal court can require the driver to attend classes and meet specific requirements at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center.
If you have a municipal court issue, we may be able to help. Fighting your case alone can feel intimidating. We have the professional experience to maximize your chances of success. 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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