What Cases Are Handled by Municipal Courts
When you think about having to go to court, you might assume that there’s just one location where legal activities happen, and that everything happens in the same couple of court rooms. In fact, the state of New Jersey runs their judicial system through a number of different courts, and each one handles different types of cases. The courts in the New Jersey judiciary include the Supreme Court, the Superior Court, the Appellate Division, the Tax Court and the Municipal Court. Though each of these addresses very important cases and each is very busy, the vast majority of cases hear in the stat are filed in the Municipal Courts.
So what types of cases are represented in the over 6 million filed in the Municipal Courts each year, and what is the process?
The Municipal Courts are where you will need to report if you are accused of a motor vehicle offense, including speeding, reckless driving, and driving while under the influence. Even parking tickets are resolved there. Additionally, it is where minor criminal offense cases such as trespassing or shoplifting, as well as breaking the state’s laws regarding fishing, hunting or boating. If you are having an issue with your neighbor over noise issues, or the property lines between your homes, or the maintenance of your property, these cases will also be heard in Municipal Court.
There are 539 municipal courts located throughout the state, with each one being operated by the town or township where it is located. If you are charged with a municipal court offense, you need to report to the specific court from which the ticket was issued. Though municipal court offenses are generally considered lower level than serious offenses, they are handled in much the same way as cases in other courts: defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and are provided with the same protections as if they were charged with felony crimes.
Most municipal court cases can be quickly resolved out of court by paying a fine, but it is important to remember that when you do this, you are pleading guilty to whatever you have been charged with. Depending upon the specific circumstances, that may end up resulting in you losing your driver’s license, being assessed with points that have a direct impact on your automobile insurance rates, and additional fines and penalties. At the law firm of Brown & Connery, we have a long and successful record of defending our clients against charges ranging from juvenile crimes to drunk driving, and we strongly encourage you to speak with a qualified and experienced attorney before choosing to represent yourself in court or pleading guilty by paying a fine. You may be missing an opportunity to have the charges against you reduced or dismissed entirely, and costing yourself unnecessarily.