If you got arrested for shoplifting, writing a bad check, driving under the influence (DUI) or any of several other offenses that are common during the holiday season, your case will proceed in New Jersey’s municipal court system. While the municipal courts hear cases involving traffic violations and other offenses that may be considered relatively “minor” in comparison to more serious crimes, a conviction in municipal court can still have significant consequences.
These consequences can include fines, restitution, probation, loss of driving privileges and even jail time depending on the specific charge and circumstances involved. So, if you have to go to municipal court in New Jersey during the holiday season, what do you need to know?
Know Where You Need to Go
There are more than 500 municipal courts throughout New Jersey. So, if you are scheduled to appear in municipal court, the first thing you need to figure out is where exactly you need to go. The address of the municipal court in which you need to appear should be listed on your summons (or ticket); but, if you aren’t sure where to go, a lawyer can help. If you show up in the wrong court, it won’t matter if you show up on time.
Know When You Need to Be There
Speaking of showing up on time, in addition to making sure you know where to go, you also need to make sure you know when to be there. This should also be listed on your summons. Make plans to be there early, and have a backup plan in case your car won’t start or your ride doesn’t show. If you don’t make it to municipal court on time, you can be charged with failure to appear.
Know What To Expect
Your first appearance in municipal court is your arraignment. During your arraignment, the judge will read the charge (or charges) against you and ask you to enter a plea. While the arraignment is not a lengthy proceeding, it is an extremely important one. If you plead guilty, you will be convicted, and your case will proceed to sentencing. If you plead not guilty, you will have the opportunity to collect evidence, prepare defenses and fight for a “not guilty” verdict at your trial (which will be scheduled for a later date).
Know Your Rights
When facing a charge (or charges) in municipal court, you have several fundamental rights. This includes the right to counsel. To make sure you avoid mistakes and present yourself in the best light possible at your arraignment, you should consult with a lawyer right away. After your arraignment, your lawyer can guide you through the remainder of the process (and take some important steps for you while you focus on enjoying the holidays). Your attorney will fight to help you obtain the best outcome possible in light of the circumstances at hand.
Talk to a Lawyer About Your New Jersey Municipal Court Case
Were you arrested during the holidays in New Jersey? If so, you should discuss your municipal court case with a lawyer as soon as possible. To schedule a confidential initial consultation at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., call 877-435-6371 or tell us how we can reach you online today.
Over 20 attorneys at HCK have extensive experience in defending municipal and criminal court cases as they were former assistant prosecutors and/or police officers for a combined total of over 600 years of law enforcement experience. You can find out more about them on our site, and you can call Managing Partner Ron Helmer on his cell phone at 609 685-0665.