Why Legal Representation in Municipal Court is Important

Most individuals will be spared the unfortunate event of having to appear in court for violations of the law.  However, if you are to ever appear in court, chances are you will have to appear in municipal court, sometimes known as "the people's court" in New Jersey.  Municipal court judges hear cases ranging from traffic violations to misdemeanor criminal charges.

While it is not uncommon for those individuals that must appear in municipal court to believe they can go it alone, this is a big misunderstanding of the municipal court process.  One of the major roadblocks to hiring legal representation in municipal court is the cost of representation.

In this article, we review the benefits of being expertly represented in municipal court, including why hiring a municipal court attorney is less expensive than representing yourself.

Common charges in municipal court

It is important to understand what charges are heard in New Jersey municipal courts, along with what charges are heard in different courts such as civil courts or criminal/felony courts.  The most common offenses are:

  • Shop-lifting
  • Assault
  • Underage Drinking
  • Harassment
  • Municipal City/County Ordinance Violations
  • Truancy
  • Building and Land Construction Violations

Someone who is charged with one of the above violations will be appearing in New Jersey municipal court.  Since this list is not exhaustive, the individual needs to make sure to know the time, date, and address of the court they are supposed to appear at before meeting with a municipal court attorney.

Municipal court attorneys know procedures

Municipal court attorneys practice in a specialized section of the legal profession.  First and foremost, they know the legal process in municipal court.  Often there are local rules, judges that have specific requirements, local forms, and specific procedures that must be followed.  Municipal court attorneys practice these procedures every day and are walking into the courtroom with an advantage and knowledge of how to perfectly handle a case.

Municipal court attorneys can negotiate with known prosecutors

In addition to knowing the specific procedures, municipal court attorneys also know the most important players, including the judges and the prosecutors.  If a municipal court attorney has a long and professional relationship with the prosecutors, chances are they can negotiate on their client's behalf and advocate for the client.

Since the prosecutors know and trust the attorney, they are more likely to consider a reduction in fines, alternative sentencing, keeping the client's driver's license, and keeping points off the client's driving record.  Having a municipal court attorney on your side is actually less expensive when fines are able to be reduced and help the client stay out of jail so they do not lose income, then the client representing him or herself.

Municipal court attorneys take the stress out of the case

Perhaps most important to parties charged with a violation is the alleviation of stress a municipal court attorney provides.  The accused is not accustomed to legal rules and procedures, they do not regularly complete forms and know how to advocate on their behalf with strong defenses.  A municipal court attorney takes away the overwhelming stress that comes with the process and skillfully works the case to provide successful defenses on the client's behalf. 

The client has enough responsibility in their life on top of being charged with a traffic or criminal misdemeanor violation. Thus, letting professionals that are experienced in this exact situation help can result in a successful outcome. While representing one's self in municipal court may seem like the better option, it is not.

There is a common misconception that representing yourself is less expensive, the municipal court system is not complicated, and being found guilty of a misdemeanor or traffic violation is not serious.  Having a municipal court attorney protects your rights, makes sure evidence is preserved, and that you are afforded the best defense possible for a better outcome.

Call (732) 449-0449 today to reach Anthony J. Cafaro, P.C.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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