municipal court trial

Before you learn how the court system works, it can seem overwhelming. Between the different levels of courts and how trials are handled at each, things can get confusing. The Municipal Court is the lowest court system in the state of New Jersey. Many lesser charges, like speeding or disorderly conduct, are handled at the Municipal level. 

It is a good idea for defendants to hire an attorney to defend them in Municipal Court. Representing yourself is never a good idea. An experienced New Jersey attorney like Leon Matchin knows how to analyze situations and create strong defenses. Leon is one of the few attorneys in the state of New Jersey who is certified by the Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey as a Municipal Court Trial attorney. He works hard on each case and can often get charges completely dismissed or at least downgraded. An attorney can help you to avoid harsher punishments or charges on your permanent record.  

Levels of Court in New Jersey

In the state of New Jersey, different court levels that see different types of cases:

  • Municipal Court:
    • Lowest level court in New Jersey
    • The judge is alone in hearing the trial; no jury is present
    • Judge can assign a maximum incarceration time of 6 months
    •  Judges can impose penalties like loss of license, fines, community services, surcharges, and driver’s license points.
    • Defendants receive all constitutional rights, such as the right to an attorney and the right to a trial
  • Superior Court:
    • Higher level court in New Jersey
    • Appeals from the Municipal Court go to the Superior Court
    •  The Superior Court contains three different parts:
      • Criminal Court – Tries indictable offenses. Trials have juries.
      • Family Court – Hears divorce and juvenile delinquency cases.
      • Civil Court – Broken into three parts.
        • Small Claims – damages under $3,000 and landlord/tenant disputes
        • Special Civil Part – damages are between $3,000 and $15,000.
        • Civil Part – damages are over $15,000
  • Appellate Division:
    •  This level of court sees appeals for the Superior Court.

What Happens at a Municipal Court Trial?

During a Municipal Court trial, only the judge hears the case. There is no jury present. Your case will be heard at the municipal courthouse in the municipality where the violation was committed. For example, if you live in Middlesex County but are charged with reckless driving in Monmouth County, your trial will be in Monmouth. While some charges like speeding may not require a trial, charges like assault and shoplifting do. If you plan to plead not guilty, your attorney must let the court know in advance before the date of the trial.

On your court date, be sure to show up on time and in professional clothes. Be polite to everyone you interact with as you check in. If you are pleading not guilty, the case will go to trial. 

The prosecutor who represents the state will present evidence and witnesses. The attorney of the defendant will then have a chance to cross-examine any witnesses. After this, the defendant’s attorney will present their own evidence in order to prove that their client is innocent. The judge will then make the final decision about whether the defendant is guilty or not and what the charge/punishments will be.

Help and Guidance from a Certified New Jersey Attorney

While defendants are not required to have an attorney represent them in Municipal Court trials, it is extremely beneficial to have one. First, an attorney will be knowledgeable about New Jersey laws and consequences for breaking them. They will share this information with the defendant so that they understand the scope of their charge. Second, they closely analyze the case to figure out ways to have the charges dropped or downgraded. 

Search no further for the perfect attorney. Leon Matchin is the man for the job! Not only does he have years of experience working on all types of cases, but he is also certified by the Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey as a Municipal Court Trial attorney. This certification is an honor and only by a small number of attorneys in the state hold it. In order to receive this high-level certification, an attorney must meet a handful of requirements. These requirements include being in good standing with the New Jersey Bar for at least 5 years, demonstrating an unblemished reputation, passing a written exam, and more! Any client working with Leon Matchin can rest assured that he is highly experienced, has a great record, and will be very prepared in helping you with your legal matters.

Leon is very familiar with what defenses work and how to prove that the court doesn’t have enough evidence to make the charge. If the charges can’t be dropped, he knows how to create a case for downgraded charges. In that case, you will face lesser penalties. He will work to have the charges dropped so that you aren’t facing jail time or any marks on your permanent record.

In addition, your attorney can help you prepare for the Municipal Court trial. If this is your first charge, you probably don’t know how the whole trial process works. Your attorney can prepare you for the trial so that you know what to expect. It is important to find a New Jersey attorney that you can trust, like Leon Matchin, to walk you through the process from start to finish.

Preparing For Your Municipal Court Trial

The Municipal Court is the lowest level of court in New Jersey. The Municipal Court handles lower-level charges, like speeding and disorderly conduct. The judge has the right to assign consequences, such as jail for up to 6 months, fines, license suspension, surcharges, license points, and community service. While it’s not required, it is essential for defendants to have a New Jersey attorney by their side for their Municipal Court trial. An attorney can draw upon their experience and knowledge of New Jersey law to create a defense that will hopefully get charges completely dropped or at least downgraded.

If you or a loved one have received a charge that will be heard in the Municipal Court system, give New Jersey attorney Leon Matchin a call at 732-887-2479 or contact him via email at [email protected]. He will set up an initial consultation to learn more about you and your case.