People from all walks of life may have contact with the Municipal Court System. Whether the case is a simple motor vehicle violation or a more serious disorderly persons offense. There are many reasons why you may receive a summons in the mail requiring you to appear before the local municipal judge. With over 500 municipal courts in New Jersey, the municipal court system is one of the most overworked court systems in the state. Despite municipal court being one of the lowest courts in the state, the impact a municipal court conviction can have on your life can be monumental.
If you have been charged with a crime or received a traffic ticket you should not consider it a mere nuisance. Indeed by hiring an experienced criminal attorney is one of the most effective ways of having your ticket or charged lowered or even dismissed. Too many times, people go to municipal court and enter a guilty plea not realizing the impact that this will have on their life.
The attorneys at the Law Office of John J. Zarych are here to protect your rights. To arrange for a free and private consultation, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 right away. Se habla español.
What Cases Does the Municipal Court Hear?
The New Jersey Municipal courts are courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, which means that they do not hear every type of case. For example, the Municipal Court will not preside over indictable criminal complaints. These cases are heard in Superior Court, however, in some instances, a first arraignment – or the first interaction with the court, where the charges are read against you will be in Municipal Court.
Most Municipal cases are for lower level criminal complaints such as drug possession, underage drinking, simple assault, shoplifting, and criminal mischief. Unlike indictable offenses which are equivalent to felonies in other states. These lower level offenses are considered disorderly persons offenses. However, just because these cases are heard in a Municipal Court, it does not mean that there aren’t any consequences for a conviction.
In addition to these lower level criminal cases, the Municipal Courts will hear traffic violations. Some of the most commonly heard traffic violations include:
- Texting while driving,
- Driving with a suspended license,
- Driving with an expired registration/inspection,
- Driving without insurance
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI),
In addition to fines for these offenses, the Municipal Judge can impose fines. A fine for DWI can cost you thousands of dollars. In addition, the judge can impose more severe punishments such as revoking your driver’s license. Because certain disorderly persons offenses carry jail time, the judge can sentence you to spend up to six months in jail.
Do I Need to Appear in Court if I Choose to Plead Guilty?
One of the most common reasons for a person to have to go to municipal court is because they have received a traffic ticket. Certain offenses such as driving while intoxicated will require that you make an appearance in court even if you are planning from the outset to enter a plea of guilty. However, not every traffic ticket requires that you make an appearance in court. When you receive a complaint and the “Court Appearance Required” box has not been checked off, then you will not need to enter your appearance. Alternatively, if the charge against you is listed on either the Statewide Violations Bureau Schedule or the Local Violations Bureau, then you may choose not to appear in court. The Statewide Violations Bureau Schedule is a list of state offense that may be paid without going to court, similarly the Local Violations Schedule is a list of municipal ordinances that you may pay without going to court. If you do not want to go to court and simply want to pay the ticket for any of these offenses, then you can either pay by going directly to the municipal court, which is located at:
1417 Brigantine Ave.
Brigantine New Jersey 08203
You can visit the courthouse anytime between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:00 pm. Alternatively, you can pay by mail, or over the internet by going to NJMCdirect.com.
However, it is important to note that if you choose to pay the ticket without going to court, then you are surrendering your right to contest the charges, trial, and an attorney. Additionally, if you pay your ticket by mail you will be pleading guilty to the charge. While some offenses may be so minor to you that it is not worth your effort to go to court and contest the charges, others will be more important and can have a greater impact on your life and potentially your career.
Furthermore, you should be aware that court appearances are always required in criminal matters. If you do not attend your scheduled hearing, the judge may issue a warrant for your arrest.
Received a Summons to Municipal Court? Call an Atlantic City Criminal Attorney for Help
If you or one of your family members was arrested for a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey, it’s important to take the charges seriously. DP offenses may carry lighter penalties than indictable crimes, but make no mistake: a conviction still has the power to result in heavy fines, months of incarceration, the temporary suspension of your driver’s license, mandatory community service, and the creation of a permanent record which can be accessed by potential employers.
However, with representation from a skilled criminal defense lawyer, it may be possible to beat the charges or obtain a conditional dismissal, which means you will be placed under supervision instead of being sentenced to jail. To arrange for a free and private consultation, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 right away. Se habla español.