What to Expect in Municipal Court
Being charged with a criminal complaint, local ordinance violation, or even motor vehicle violations can be unsettling and stressful for most who find themselves as a defendant. It can be confusing for individuals who are e familiar with the NJ municipal court system and even moreso for those with no prior involvement. For many, the unknown can be stressful. The New Jersey Courts system has released info specific to how the municipal courts are run and to give insight as to what to expect for both pro se and represented individuals. Below is some helpful info relative to what to expect, what offenses are payable without an appearance, time payment options, and the QR code to watch the Municipal Court Opening Statement. This is for information only and applies to New Jersey. Also included is a directory of all the municipal courts within the state of New Jersey.
New Jersey Judiciary Municipal Court
Your Day In Court
Your Rights as a Defendant in the Municipal Courts of the State of New Jersey.
1. You are PRESUMED TO BE INNOCENT until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
2. You have the RIGHT TO BE INFORMED OF THE CHARGES against you.
3. You have the RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT concerning the charges against you, and anything you say may be held against you.
4. You have the RIGHT TO RETAIN AN ATTORNEY.
5. You have the RIGHT TO BE ASSIGNED AN ATTORNEY if the judge determines that you cannot afford an attorney, and there is a likelihood that if you are convicted, you will either go to jail, receive a substantial fine or your driver’s license will be suspended.
6. You have the RIGHT TO REQUEST A REASONABLE POSTPONEMENT so that you may have an opportunity to consult with your attorney and prepare a proper defense.
7. You have the RIGHT TO TESTIFY OR NOT TO TESTIFY on your own behalf.
8. You have the RIGHT TO CALL OR SUBPOENA WITNESSES to testify on your behalf.
9. You have the RIGHT TO APPEAL within 20 days of any conviction.
If you think you need the services of an interpreter, please notify the municipal court administrator prior to your appearance in court.
Revised 10/2019, CN 10959 page 1 of 5
What is a plea agreement?
A plea agreement is a way to settle a case. Plea agreements are negotiated with the prosecutor, an attorney who represents the state. You will be given the opportunity to speak to the prosecutor to try to settle your case. You are not required to speak to the prosecutor. All plea agreements must be approved by the judge.
Revised 10/2019, CN 10959 page 2 of 5
What happens if I plead guilty in court?
If you plead guilty in court, the judge will ask questions regarding the offense charged to make sure there are facts to support the guilty plea and to determine that your plea is voluntary. The judge will then make a finding and impose a sentence. If you plead guilty or are found guilty of traffic offenses in court, the penalties listed on the Violations Bureau Schedule do not apply.
What if I plead not guilty?
If you plead not guilty, the judge will preside over a trial to determine whether you are guilty or not guilty. The trial may be held that day, but in certain circumstances it may be rescheduled.
In a trial, the prosecutor first will call the state’s witnesses, the witnesses against you. They will answer the prosecutor’s questions and present any other evidence they have. When the prosecutor is finished with each witness, you, or your attorney, will be permitted to ask them questions about their testimony. When the prosecutor’s case is complete, it will be your turn to call witnesses and present evidence on your behalf. You can testify, although you are not required to do so. If you testify, the prosecutor can ask you questions or cross-examine you. After all witnesses and evidence have been presented, the judge will decide whether you are guilty or not guilty. If you are found guilty, the judge will impose a sentence.
Can I use the Internet to find more information or to plead guilty and pay a fine?
Yes. For certain offenses, where a court appearance is not required, you can find out the total amount that you must pay if you plead guilty and pay through NJMCdirect.com.
You can obtain more information about the municipal courts and the New Jersey Judiciary at njcourts.gov.
If I am found guilty, what happens after court?
You will be required to pay all monetary penalties, as ordered by the judge. Under certain circumstances, the court can permit you to pay over a period of time.
You will be given instructions on how to comply with any other parts of your sentence.
How can I appeal a decision of the court?
If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you may appeal, but if you appeal, you must file the appeal within 20 calendar days of your conviction. You will be required to pay a deposit that will be applied against the cost of preparing a transcript of the trial. You also will be required to pay a $100 filing fee. Ask the court staff to provide you with a copy of the appeal packet, “How to Appeal a Decision of a Municipal Court.” Information on representing yourself in an appeal is also available at njcourts.gov.
What happens when the court’s orders are not obeyed?
People who do not come to court when summoned or subpoenaed, make payments as required, or comply with other requirements of their sentences, face additional punishments including fines, drivers’ license suspensions, arrest and jail.
Revised 10/2019, CN 10959 page 3 of 5
For more information regarding your case, contact the municipal court at the phone number found on the ticket or court notice.
Municipal Court Opening Statement
NJ state wide Municipal Court Contact Info