Our criminal defense law firm represents individuals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in a variety of crimes and offenses. While many of these matters are extremely serious, especially in New Jersey, our law firm does handle a number of less serious matters in New Jersey’s municipal court.
On average, New Jersey’s municipal court adjudicates over 6 million cases per year. While 5 million of these cases involve traffic (non DUI) and parking offenses, New Jersey’s municipal court hears over 500,000 lower level offenses which include disorderly person/petty disorderly person offenses, non-traffic offenses (simple assault, drug possession), and DWI matters.
Common non-DWI/non-traffic offenses include the following:
- Possession of marijuana 2C: 35-10a(4)
- Possession of drug paraphernalia 2C: 36-2
- Shoplifting 2C: 20-11
- Harassment 2C: 33-4
These are all considered disorderly person offenses where the maximum punishment is 6 months in county jail, a $1000 fine, and potential loss of driving privileges (drugs).
Common motor vehicle (traffic) offenses include:
- Speeding 39:4-98 (2-5 points depending on speed)
- Careless driving 39: 4-97
- Reckless driving 39: 4-96 (5 points)
While many traffic violations will assess points against your driving record, a common alternative plea is to unsafe operations under 39: 4-97.2. A plea to this traffic offense will not impose any points against your driving record but will impose an additional $250 state surcharge on top of any fine. it is important to understand that you can only plead to this offense twice within 5 years.
Drunk Driving – DWI in New Jersey Municipal Court
Drunk driving in New Jersey under 39: 4-50 includes alcohol and drugs and common fines include loss of license, potential jail, and fines. Where a persons BAC is between .08-.10 there is a 3-month license suspension and a 7-month license suspension where BAC is over .10-.15. If BAC exceeds .15 there is a 7-month license suspension along with a mandatory interlock device. These are penalties for a first offense; a 2nd offense will result in a 2-year license suspension and mandatory jail time of 2-90 days. This jail time can be served in an in-patient treatment program. A 3rd DWI will result in a 10-year license suspension, mandatory interlock device, and 180 days in a county jail; of which only 90 days can be spent in an in-patient facility.
Further, for a DWI, New Jersey also offers a “step-down” program under 39: 4-50(a)(3). The step-down provision allows a person to plead guilty to a lower offense if the previous conviction is more than 10 years old.
Pre-Trial Motions in New Jersey Municipal Court
While the municipal court allows New Jersey criminal defense attorneys to make many pre-trial motions orally, an attorney must file a motion to suppress evidence in writing. In addition to motions to suppress evidence common pre-trial motions in municipal court include speedy trial motions (Barker v. Wyngo), discovery motions (State v. Holup), and objections to lapse certificates.
Finally, if you face charges in municipal court and have no prior criminal history, you may qualify for the conditional discharge program. Under a conditional discharge a court will accept your plea but will not enter a judgement or conviction. If you successfully complete the conditional discharge program the prosecutor will withdraw the charges and it will not result in a criminal record.
Contact Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in PA & NJ
Please click here to contact our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers. We offer free case reviews and serve the following areas in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Atlantic City, Camden, Cherry Hill, Chester, Conshohocken, Doylestown, Media, Norristown, Philadelphia, Pottstown, Salem, Upper Darby, Upper Merion, Upper Providence, Vineland & Woodbury areas.