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The large percentage of the offenses issued in Woodbridge, East Brunswick, Old Bridge and other municipalities in Middlesex County fall within municipal court jurisdiction. This includes all disorderly persons offenses, traffic tickets and ordinance violations issued by the police.
If you are facing a municipal court offense, do not be distracted into believing that you cannot be significantly effect because the case is being handled locally. Most municipal court charges can result in hundreds of dollars in fines and even jail. A skilled lawyer can, however, help you avoid penalties such as these and, in many case, a conviction.
The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall has been a mainstay throughout the region for several decades now with several attorneys on staff who have even prosecuted in the area. For example, Jason Seidman, Esq., is the former supervisor of the gangs, guns and drugs task force at the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. Our team has over 100 years of experience serving Edison, New Brunswick and other towns. Contact us anytime 24/7 for a free consultation.
Types of Cases Heard In Municipal Court
Municipal courts in New Jersey possess authority to hear motor vehicle and traffic violations, disorderly persons offenses, and violations of municipal ordinance. Arrests that result in an individual being charged with an indictable offenses (i.e. crime of the first, second, third or fourth degree) are referred to the County Courthouse since felony matters like these fall outside municipal court jurisdiction. A municipal court therefore lacks any ability to deal with anything beyond an initial arraignment/appearance if your case involves a charge of this nature.
There also is no jurisdiction on the part of a municipal court to preside over a criminal case involving a juvenile (i.e. a defendant who is under 18 years of age). It does, however, have the ability to deal with traffic violations such as speeding, DWI and driving without insurance.
Territorial Jurisdiction of the Municipal Court
A municipal court may preside over violations that occur within the geographic limits of the related town. The court has authority to resolve all offenses that are committed within the community, even those issued by the New Jersey State Police and other outside law enforcement agencies. For example, the municipal court has jurisdiction to handle a criminal complaint or motor vehicle ticket issued by a state trooper on the New Jersey Turnpike or Garden State Parkway as long as the violation occurred on section of the roadway falling within the borders of the community.
There are instances where a police officer or civilian issues a charge in the wrong town. New Jersey case law provides that, rather than dismissing the an offense issued outside the proper venue, the court may transfer the case to the appropriate municipal court.
Statute of Limitation for Filing a Municipal Court Offense
The time limit for filing a charge hinges on the type of offense involved. The statute of limitation for filing a disorderly persons offense is one year in accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:1–6(b)(2). What this means is that a simple assault, possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana or other disorderly persons offense must be filed within one year of the date of the violation. The only exception where a matter can proceed outside of the one year is when the case originally involved an indictable charge that was downgraded.
The standard time limit for a traffic ticket is 30 days. The statute of limitation is extended to 90 days for DWI, breath test refusal or driving while suspended. Leaving the scene of the accident can be filed within one year of the related violation.
Busiest Municipal Courts in Middlesex County
The New Jersey Administrative Offices of the Courts maintains statistics for every municipal court in the state including those located in Middlesex County. The following is a breakdown of the busiest municipal courts in the county.
|Name of Court||Disorderly Persons Offenses||DWI||Traffic Tickets (Moving)|
Our lawyers are highly familiar with all Middlesex County municipal courts as practitioners who have been appearing throughout the jurisdiction for several decades.
Examples of Charges Handled In Municipal Court
There are charges that arise more often than others in Middlesex County municipal courts. The following is a list of the type of offense which is handled most frequently:
- Possession of Marijuana (e.g. 50 grams or less)
- Simple Assault
- Disorderly conduct
- Driving while suspended
- Possession of CDS in a motor vehicle
Penalties That You Can Face In Municipal Court
Do not make the mistake of thinking that the penalties you are facing are minor because your charge is being handled in a municipal court like the one in Piscataway, New Brunswick or Sayreville. You can be fined thousands of dollars, have your driver’s license suspended for years and even be sent to the county jail for up to six months in accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:43-2.
The court is obligated to impose a fine for almost all criminal and motor vehicle offenses. There is typically discretion in terms of a permissible range that may be imposed. For example, the court may impose a fine of up to $1,000 for a disorderly persons offense and up to $500 for a petty disorderly persons offense. N.J.S.A. 2C:43-3(h) enhances the maximum limit for drug charges like possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana and failure to make lawful disposition of CDS. More specifically, a municipal court judge can impose a fine equal to three times the street value of the drug/cds involved. In terms of the fine for a traffic violation, specific amounts are set forth under Title 39.
Municipal court judges are also required to order restitution to a victim who has suffered a loss as a result of the violation. The amount to be paid cannot, however, represent an additional punishment. It must provide the best opportunity for full compensation while factoring in the defendant’s ability to pay.
Jail is also a potential penalty that may be part of a municipal court sentence in many instances. The maximum is six months and is triggered when someone is convicted of a third violation for DWI and most disorderly persons. The court may allow a defendant to serve his or her jail term on weekends or at night in accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:43-2(b)(7).
N.J.S.A. 2C:43-2(b)(5) allows a municipal court to impose community service as well. This will typically involve working at a facility. One day of community service is equal to six hours.
A defendant’s driver’s license may be suspended for up to two years if he or she was operating a motor vehicle while committing a disorderly persons offense. The suspension is mandatory for at least six months whenever an individual is convicted of possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia. There are many other situation where the court must suspend privileges to operate a motor vehicle, for example, there is a two year revocation for possession of cds in a motor vehicle.
Rights You Possess In Municipal Court
There are certain fundamental rights which you possess in municipal court. First and foremost, you are innocent until proven guilty. The state is required to prove each and every element of an offense beyond reasonable doubt.
The second right is to be afforded due process and be informed of the charges against you. You cannot simply be arrested and subjected to punishment without being fully advised of the allegations that have been lodged.
You also have a right to remain silent. You cannot be forced to speak to police or testify on your own behalf at trial. The decision not to speak cannot be used against you.
The fourth right you need to be aware of is your entitlement to be represented by an attorney. Every defendant who has been accused of a violation is entitled to have a lawyer at their side throughout the proceedings.
Middlesex County Municipal Court Lawyers
When you are arrested or charged with a serious traffic offense or disorderly persons charge, you want to walk into Municipal Court with the most experienced attorney you can find. The reason why this is so important is because almost all motor vehicle offenses have the ability to result in significant financial ramifications and, in cases like driving while suspended, dwi, reckless driving, and driving without insurance, you can lose your license. Likewise, a conviction for a criminal offense in municipal court results in a 2C criminal record that will show up on a background check and, in most cases, can even carry up to six months of incarceration. The best way to minimize the risk of a municipal court conviction is to hire an attorney with the most knowledge and skill you can afford. Give our New Brunswick, East Brunswick or Woodbridge office a telephone call as we are confident that you will concur that our defense firm is an excellent candidate to handle your case.
Municipal Courts We Serve