Most New Jersey citizens come into contact with the court system at the Municipal level. The Municipal Courts have jurisdiction over cases like simple assault, minor shoplifting, traffic violations, and more. Major criminal cases like murder, kidnapping, etc., do not start in the Municipal Courts. The New Jersey court system is relatively simple to understand. If you have been charged with an offense, take the first step by contacting a New Jersey Municipal Court attorney, like Leon Matchin. Leon has years of experience defending clients in the Municipal Court system. With his guidance, you will quickly learn all there is to know about your upcoming trial and how you need to prepare.
Court System in New Jersey
According to njcourts.gov, New Jersey has one of the simplest court systems in the nation. Here are the different court levels in New Jersey and the types of cases they hear:
- Municipal Court – motor vehicle/parking tickets, minor criminal offenses, municipal ordinance offense, and other offenses (ex: fish and game violations)
- Tax Court – appeals of tax decisions made by County Boards of Taxation and appeals on tax decisions made by the Director of the Division of Taxation. These cases are about matters such as state income tax, sales taxes, business taxes, etc.
- Superior Court – There is one superior court located in each county in New Jersey. The Superior Court serves as the trial court in the state. At this level, cases are divided by category, including criminal, civil, family, and tax.
- Superior Court – Appellate Division – In this court, a panel of judges hears appeals from decisions made in the trial courts. There are 32 judges in this court, and the panels consist of 2-3 judges.
- Supreme Court – This is the highest level of court in New Jersey. The Supreme Court consists of a Chief Justice and six associate justices. The Supreme Court reviews appeals cases from the lower courts.
Now that you understand the court system, it’s important to keep in mind that most cases run through the municipal courts. As a defendant, it’s likeliest that your trial will take place with your local municipal court.
There are over 500 municipal courts in the state of New Jersey. These courts oversee cases within their jurisdiction boundaries. This means your case will be seen in a municipal court near where the offense occurred. Keep in mind if you get a speeding ticket while on a road trip, your trial will be at the municipal court where you committed the offense, not at a municipal court near where you live. Your attorney will help you figure out which court your trial will be at.
Your Day in Court
New Jersey has put together an excellent “Your Day in Court” pamphlet to prepare defendants for a municipal court trial. Keep in mind things look a bit different these days due to COVID-19. Many cases are being heard virtually by phone or video conference. Your attorney will let you know if your case is going to be in-person or virtual. Check out a brief summary of what you can expect in court:
- You have rights! For example, you are considered innocent until proven guilty. You also must be informed of all charges against you. Additionally, you have the right to an attorney. This last point is important because the court also has the right to assign you an attorney. Before heading to court, use your rights to choose your own attorney so that you have professional guidance and can be prepared for what lies ahead.
- You have the right to appeal your case within 20 days of conviction.
- In some cases, you can plead guilty, pay your fine, and avoid a court appearance altogether. Remember, with an experienced attorney, you have the chance to have consequences like fines downgraded or completely dropped.
- Once in court, check in with the staff and listen to all instructions.
- There is a chance your case can be postponed to give you time to acquire an attorney. At this time, if you haven’t already contacted an attorney, it is critical that you do so before your postponement date.
- If you miss your court date, you will face additional penalties such as fines, jail time, or license suspension.
How to Prepare for Municipal Court
The best way to prepare for your municipal court date is to work closely with an attorney. An experienced New Jersey municipal court attorney like Leon Matchin has years of experience in working in the municipal courts. He knows the ins and outs of the entire process and knows how to create a defense that can potentially get your charges dismissed or downgraded.
The key to working with your attorney is honesty about your situation. Let your attorney know every single detail related to your offense because anything you may say (even if it seems unimportant) might be critical in creating your defense. Leon will also help you prepare for your court date by giving you pointers about how to act in court. For example, it’s always important to listen, be respectful, and only speak when appropriate. By working with Leon, you will be more confident about what to do and how to act when your court date arrives.
New Jersey Municipal Court Attorney
The Municipal Courts in New Jersey are where most cases go. Everything from speeding to possession of drug paraphernalia is heard at the municipal level. The court system in New Jersey is relatively simple. Your New Jersey Municipal Court attorney will help you understand the system and what it means to be going to Municipal Court. If you or a loved one have been charged with an offense, don’t wait another minute. Contact an attorney as soon as possible. Contact Leon Matchin by phone at 732-887-2479, or email him at [email protected]. He will set up a free, no-obligation consultation to review your case and go over your options.