You may never step foot inside one of the Superior courts in your county, but the average citizen will undoubtedly face a situation where they must appear in Municipal Court. These limited jurisdiction courts often represent the primary point of contact between individuals and civil and criminal matters. As the New Jersey Supreme Court has said, Municipal Courts are the “People’s Court.” The range of cases heard by a Municipal Judge can be staggering. The courts are busy.
There are 500 municipalities in New Jersey. Some towns share their municipal court with neighboring ones, but generally most municipalities have a single Municipality Court, presided over by a Judge. A Municipal Prosecutor is responsible for the quasi-criminal prosecutions commenced by a police summons. The Prosecutor represents the State, and has the discretion to select what statute is used to prosecute a defendant. Municipal Courts typically hear cases involving motor vehicle violations, DWI/DUI complaints, violations of municipal orders, possession of small amounts of marijuana, or possession of drug paraphernalia, simple assault, private harassment, shoplifting. More serious, indictable offenses are heard in Superior Court, Law Division.
It is critically important to consult an attorney if you are charged with a DWI or drug related offense, as pleading guilty can have serious implications for you, and your license. You have a right to full discovery in these cases and you must act to obtain that discovery. It is the prosecutor’s job to prove the case. While it is usually not difficult, if the sobriety tester is in working order, the complaint can still be challenged. It is also possible to ask to have the complaint dismissed if you aren’t provided with discovery.
Consult the Law Offices of Sadaf Trimarchi to discuss your rights if you have been summoned to appear in Municipal Court. I am happy to offer flat fees and bundled services for routine matters.