Jurisdiction of the Municipal Court

The jurisdiction of Municipal Courts has been established by the New Jersey State Legislature and clarified by New Jersey State Court opinions. Typically Municipal Courts have jurisdiction to handle, or have trials, in the least serious class of offenses, often described as “quasi– criminal” offenses. The United States Supreme Court has required the right to a jury trial when an offense subjects a defendant to a prison sentence of more then six months.  Municipal Courts jurisdiction extends to offenses where the maximum term of imprisonment is six months or less, and trials are held before a Judge. Accordingly, there is no right to a jury trial in Municipal Court.

 “Less serious class of offenses” must be read in the context of the criminal code, not the impact on individuals in certain cases, as some of those so called less serious offenses can result in up to six months incarceration, high fines and loss of driving priviledges. Many violations can increase the likelihood of enhanced penalties if future violations occur.
Most individuals facing such consequences would deem them serious enough! Municipal Court charges should not be taken lightly.

Cases heard in New Jersey Municipal Courts include motor vehicle and traffic violations, local town ordinance violations and disorderly person offenses. These Courts also handle petty disorderly persons offenses and other non-indictable offenses, fish and game law violations, boating law violations and other proceedings where jurisdiction is granted by statute. Municipal Courts should be distinguished from the Superior Court of New Jersey which has been established in each County and handles Civil, serious Criminal and Family Law issues. In the Criminal context, County Prosecutors actually review cases and make the determination that a case should be heard in, or remanded to, the Municipal Court in the town where the offense was committed, or, for violations deemed more serious, stay at the County level.

As set forth in the New Jersey Municipal Court website:

“It is through the Municipal Courts that most citizens in the State come into contact with the judicial system, either as a defendant, a victim, or a witness. Since most citizens will never appear before another court, it is from their experience in the Municipal Courts that most people base their conclusions about the quality of justice in New Jersey.”

In many cases your conclusion about the quality of justice will differ depending on the quality of your lawyer. The Law Office of Jay Weinberg consistently obtains excellent results for our clients as a result of years of hard work, continued study, focused accountable attention to your case, and proper negotiations. We have included testimonials from many clients in this website for your review, and we have videos on various aspects of law so you can learn a bit about the law, but also as an introduction of sorts. The easiest thing to do is call the Office and speak with Mr. Weinberg about your case.