Haddonfield, NJ Attorney for a Case in Municipal Court

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    When you face criminal charges, you might be surprised to see that your case is not scheduled to take place at the county Superior Court, but rather at a local municipal courthouse.  This is because the municipal courts in New Jersey hear something like 6 million of the 7 million criminal cases filed in the state every year, according to an informational pamphlet produced by the State of New Jersey.

    Criminal cases are usually handled at the municipal court level, with only felony cases – called “indictable crimes” in NJ – moving on to Superior Court.  If you are facing traffic tickets, disorderly persons charges, or any other level of criminal charge, your case will usually start and end at the municipal court level.  Even indictable crimes will have the initial steps of the case take place in municipal court.

    For help with your case, call Lombardo Law Group’s attorneys for municipal court today at (609) 418-4537.

    What is Municipal Court in Haddonfield, NJ?

    Municipal court is our first level of the court system in New Jersey, and it is the court that hears most – i.e., approximately 86% – of the cases in the state.  If you are facing criminal charges in NJ, they are almost sure to pass through municipal court, and you should have a lawyer for municipal court cases at your side during that process and beyond.

    Courts in New Jersey have a few different levels.  The lowest level is municipal court, with about 510 municipal courts being found across New Jersey.  The next level is the Superior Court, with around 460 judges across the state and a Superior Court in each county.  From there, cases can be appealed to the Appellate Division of Superior Court – our intermediate appeals court – and finally to the New Jersey Supreme Court for high-level appeals.  In the slim majority of cases, you can further appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court after that, especially where legal issues surrounding your constitutional rights are concerned.

    The municipal court handles preliminary hearings for indictable crimes – high-level criminal offenses – as well as arraignments, early bail hearings, and other early stages of the case before those cases are held over for Superior Court.  The municipal court will also hear all stages of the case, aside from appeals, for other levels of crime, namely petty disorderly persons offenses, disorderly persons offenses (i.e., misdemeanors), and ordinance violations.

    Trials at Municipal Court in Haddonfield, NJ

    As mentioned, trials for misdemeanor cases – called disorderly persons offenses – take place at municipal court in New Jersey.  These charges are still quite serious offenses and cover things like DWI, simple assault, minor drug possession, trespassing, disorderly conduct, theft/shoplifting, and other low-level offenses.  These can all lead to 6 months maximum in jail, which creates some issues for a trial.

    In New Jersey, every criminal defendant has the right to a trial by jury, but only if their charges involve a potential of over a year in prison.  Under the NJ Constitution and the U.S. Constitution, there is no right to a jury trial for disorderly persons offenses, traffic offenses, or ordinance violations.  This means that every trial in municipal court will be a bench trial where the judge determines legal and factual questions instead of giving factual questions to the jury.

    However, this is not a disaster; judges are required to follow the law when determining guilt or innocence and often take this find-finding role incredibly seriously.  Experienced municipal court judges are also often more willing and able to separate out the information they know about the case from what the lawyers actually prove, making decisions only on the evidence that is properly vetted and produced at trial.  Especially in cases involving drunk driving charges or white-collar crimes where specific, technical facts are involved, your case might actually be stronger as a bench trial than a jury trial.

    Bail Hearings and Arraignments in Municipal Court in Haddonfield

    After being arrested, your first appearance in court will be an arraignment, where the charges you are facing are read off and you are entitled to enter a plea.  Our lawyers can represent you at this early stage and help you enter a “not guilty” plea or, if we have already worked out a negotiated plea deal, the case quickly with a guilty plea.  There are also other types of pleas that might be important if you are also facing potential civil liability for a case, such as a “no contest” plea that proceeds like a “guilty” plea but does not actually admit fault/guilt.

    When you are arraigned, you will often have bail set at the same time.  Judges are supposed to avoid cash bail for most cases in New Jersey, releasing defendants on their own recognizance (ROR bail) in the vast majority of cases.  Cash or bond might be required if you are considered a flight risk and the judge wants to make sure that you come back to court for your case.  Bail might be revoked in cases where you are considered a danger to the community, but our lawyers can make arguments showing your attachments to the community, your lack of flight risk, and the reasons you are not a danger, all to try to help you secure bail so you can fight your charges from outside a jail cell.

    Note that these stages often occur in all kinds of cases, no matter what level of charge you face.  This means that you will need help at the municipal court level even if your felony/indictable crime trial will later take place at the Superior Court level.  For those cases, a preliminary hearing will also be held in municipal court to see if there is probable cause to continue the case against you in Superior Court.

    Call Our Lawyers for Municipal Court Hearings in Haddonfield, NJ Today

    Call (609) 418-4537 for a free case review with the municipal court attorneys at Lombardo Law Group.

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    Three Convenient Locations

    Haddonfield (Main Office)
    25 Chestnut Street, Ste 2
    Haddonfield New Jersey 08033
    (856) 281-9600
    (877) 340-0609
    Hammonton Office
    Hammonton, New Jersey
    (609) 561-8100
    (877) 340-0609
    Atlantic City Office
    1014 Atlantic Avenue
    Atlantic City, New Jersey 08401
    (609) 318-6196
    (877) 340-0609
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