If you received a summons to go to municipal court in Ocean County, NJ, it likely means that there are pending charges against you. Usually, these papers are issued if you are not arrested for a crime but rather issued a ticket or something that looks like a ticket.
If you were given a summons for a criminal case in Ocean County, NJ, you should call a lawyer and be prepared to handle the charges against you when you arrive in court. Cases handled in municipal court are often lower-level offenses, ordinance violations, and traffic tickets, but they can still result in fines, jail time, and other penalties. As such, always speak with a lawyer about these charges.
For a free case assessment, call the Ocean County criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych by dialing (609) 616-4956.
What Does a Summons for a Municipal Court Mean in Ocean County, NJ?
People usually think of criminal cases starting with an arrest, but this only happens for cases where there is an immediate danger or problem that justifies putting you in handcuffs and taking you in for booking or detention in jail. In most other cases where a low-level offense, local ordinance violation, or traffic violation was committed, police or other officials will issue a summons instead.
The summons tells you where to arrive and what the case against you is, typically listing the code section you were charged with violating as well as the date of the hearing against you.
Summonses are different from subpoenas, which are used to tell people to arrive to testify before grand juries and courts. If you received a subpoena, it could mean you are being asked to be a witness in another person’s case or that you are being asked to testify in a grand jury investigation that might result in charges being filed against you or someone else.
When you go to court for a municipal court summons, be prepared to face a hearing or trial for the case against you. To prepare for this, you should always consult with our Ocean County, NJ criminal defense lawyers.
Fighting Charges After Arriving in Court on a Municipal Summons in Ocean County, NJ
Upon arriving at a municipal court for a summons in Ocean County, you will likely be facing charges for a traffic violation, a local ordinance violation, a petty disorderly persons charge, or a disorderly persons charge. You should be prepared to face a trial for these cases after meeting with your lawyer to discuss the charges against you.
Disorderly persons offenses are like what other systems call a “misdemeanor,” and they can result in fines and jail time up to 6 months. Petty disorderly persons offenses are like what other systems call “violations” or “summary offenses,” and they result in lower fines and up to 30 days in jail. Local ordinance violations and traffic violations usually have fines only, though jail is sometimes on the table.
Because these cases are mostly low-level offenses, the trials usually go quite quickly for these cases. The police and prosecutors will put on their witnesses and evidence, which often include just the officer who issued the summons and their testimony about what happened. Then, you and your lawyer can put on your own case, call witnesses, and present evidence in your defense.
Ultimately, the decision about guilt or innocence is made by a judge alone – no jury – for these levels of cases. You can only get a jury trial for more serious “indictable crimes” – similar to what other systems call felonies.
Our lawyers can also reach out to the prosecutors or officers involved and see if we can negotiate a potential plea deal or other “diversions” that might allow you to perform community service or seek treatment for anger management, addiction, or some other problem, all in the name of avoiding the charges.
At the end of the day, this might be your one and only “day in court,” so you should come to municipal court prepared after planning your case thoroughly with your lawyer.
Is a Municipal Court Summons Used for Jury Duty or Criminal Charges in Ocean County, NJ?
Usually, there are no jury trials held at municipal court; they are held at the county’s Superior Court instead. If you are issued a summons for municipal court, then it is likely a case for criminal charges or other charges against you. Jury summons forms look quite different and give clear instructions to make it obvious they are for jury duty, not a case against you.
Are Jury Summonses for Civil or Criminal Cases in Municipal Court in Ocean County, NJ
Usually, when you receive a summons, it will say what it is for. If you are facing a traffic ticket or low-level criminal case, it will usually list charges and the code section you are accused of violating on your summons. If you receive one of these criminal summonses, definitely consider calling a lawyer right away for help, or else you might face jail time and fines.
Summonses are also issued to defendants in civil cases, but they usually say what the allegations are and what the case against them is. However, it is not always clear if it is for a civil or criminal case.
What Happens if You Ignore a Municipal Court Subpoena in Ocean County, NJ?
If a defendant fails to appear at the court hearing listed on the summons, then the court can issue a bench warrant. Municipal courts and higher courts alike can use bench warrants for so-called “failure to appear” issues where the defendant missed their hearing.
A bench warrant is a warrant to arrest you and bring you to jail so that you arrive at your court date by force. This is different from an arrest warrant, where the police and prosecutors investigating you come to the court to ask for permission to arrest you and bring you to jail based on probable cause. With a bench warrant, police usually arrest you the next time they encounter you rather than going looking for you.
Bench warrants are usually avoided in cases involving only low-level offenses, but the court does still have the power to issue one. Talk to a lawyer about what to do if you miss court, as we can try to reschedule the case and get any outstanding warrants withdrawn.
Call Our Ocean County Criminal Defense Attorneys
For your free evaluation of your potential case, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych’s Ocean County criminal defense lawyers today at (609) 616-4956.