Municipal courts are the court experience that most people have when they get a traffic ticket or get a bit too rowdy at the football game. Municipal courts handle mostly minor violations and are the starting place for offenses that can go on to become more serious criminal matters.
While matters handled in municipal courts are less serious, that doesn’t mean that the outcome of a municipal court proceeding cannot have a major negative impact on a person’s life. The penalties for municipal court offenses can significantly disrupt your immediate as well as future plans and should not be taken lightly.
At Deutchman & Drews, LLC our experienced New Jersey municipal court attorneys will defend the charges against you to the fullest extent of the law and get you the best possible outcome.
Types of Matters Handled in Municipal Courts
In New Jersey, in addition to motor vehicle offenses, matters handled in municipal court include city ordinance violations, fish and game regulation violations, and prohibited conduct that is not considered criminal.
Non-criminal offenses are referred to as disorderly persons offenses. Disorderly persons offenses are punishable by a maximum of 6 months jail time. Disorderly persons offenses are categorized based on the severity of their penalties.
Disorderly Persons Offenses – Disorderly persons offenses are punishable by up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. They can include some of the following offenses:
- shoplifting – less than $200
- simple assault
- bad checks – written for less than $200
- disorderly conduct
- resisting arrest
Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses – Petty disorderly persons offenses are punishable by up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. They can include some of the following offenses:
- improper behavior – fighting/threatening, creating dangerous conditions
- offensive language in public
New Jersey’s Driver Point System
The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission provides a list of traffic infractions and the corresponding number of points that will be applied to your driving record if you are found guilty of the offense. A sampling of various listed offenses and the points they carry include:
- failure to yield to pedestrian in crosswalk 2 points
- tailgating 5 points
- using a cell phone while driving 3 points
- reckless driving 5 points
- speeding up to 14 mph over limit 2 points
- speeding 15-29 mph over limit 4 points
- speeding 30 mph or more over limit 5 points
- leaving an injury accident scene 8 points
How Driver Points can Affect Driving Privileges
There are two threshold point totals that result in penalties. If you acquire 6 or more points within 3 years of your last violation you will have to pay an annual surcharge. If you accumulate 12 or more points on your record your license will be suspended.
Surcharge – Accumulating 6 points within 3 years results in a surcharge of $150 plus an additional $25 for every point over 6. The surcharge is paid annually and can last up to 3 years.
License suspension – Accumulating 12 points at any time results in a minimum 30-day suspension that increases as the number of points over 12 increases.
Motor vehicle points can also potentially lead to surcharges on your auto insurance policy
How You Can Benefit From Experienced Legal Representation
When you are facing charges in municipal court there is more at stake than just how long you may have to go to jail or the amount of your fine. There are longer-term negative consequences that can result from the outcome of your case.
- You could have a record that can affect your current employment as well as future opportunities.
- Your driver’s license may be suspended or revoked.
- You may be faced with jail time
- You could face significant monetary fines
- It may be determined that evidence exists to charge you with a more serious offense.
An experienced municipal court attorney will know how to prepare your defense so that you experience the least amount of hardship and inconvenience. An attorney may be able to negotiate a favorable plea agreement so you can avoid harsher penalties and significant damage to your reputation.
A Law Firm That Can Help You Get a Better Result
At Deutchman & Drews, LLC, our experienced New Jersey municipal court lawyers know what you’re up against and how to use the process to your advantage. Your freedom deserves your best defense. Call us at 732-828-1300 or contact us here to schedule a free consultation.