There’s a common misconception among those facing municipal court charges. Some figure that they aren’t such a big deal. Therefore, they either ignore the court summons altogether or make an appearance without the benefit of legal counsel. The first is never advisable. Meanwhile, it is a risk to go before a judge without an experienced advocate by your side.
By no means is it a good idea to underplay the consequences of a municipal court hearing. You’re sadly mistaken if you think you can’t incur some heavy duty fines or wind up in jail. In fact, in some matters, your charges could have your case kicked up to superior court.
The bottom line is that a municipal court judge has plenty of authority to assess penalties you might not like. In fact, consider some common offenses and what can happen to you when you’re in court.
Municipal Court: Traffic Tickets
If the police pulled you over for running a red light, you are most likely facing a traffic ticket in violation of NJSA 39:4-105. Although it’s doubtful that you would go to jail for this offense alone, the municipal court judge could order you to time in county jail. Meanwhile, the truth is that traffic tickets are expensive. Not only will you need to come up with court costs and fines, but there are other considerations.
The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission is quick to remind motor vehicle operators that driving is not a right. Instead, it is considered a privilege. Conviction of moving violations results in an assessment of points. In the case of going through the red light, you could find yourself looking at two points on your license.
An accumulation of points over a specified time period will result in license suspension. No doubt you can already guess the inconvenience this would mean to you. At the very least, you would need to make arrangements to get to and from work.
There are a few advantages to retaining an attorney to represent you for a traffic ticket. For one, the attorney will evaluate the evidence in the case. For example, DWI charges are traffic violations. There may be questions about the breathalyzer results or a chain of evidence.
In any case, your attorney will work hard to either get your case dismissed or have the charges reduced to a lesser offense. It’s well worth your time, particularly if you are in danger of losing your license.
Assault Charges in Municipal Court
What might have been an uneventful brawl to you, can turn into a big deal in the courtroom. Simple assault charges are heard in municipal court. Meanwhile, a municipal court judge may decide that the case really warrants an indictment for aggravated assault. Although the New Jersey courts don’t use the word felony, indictable offenses rise to the same level.
More than likely, the last thing you want is a criminal record. However, that’s not all. In some cases, assault charges can mean incarceration as well as heavy fines. It’s never advisable to face the judge alone without an adequate defense.
All things considered, these are just two major types of cases heard in municipal court. At the Law Offices of Lawrence M. Centanni, we have experience in both prosecution and defense of municipal court matters. Contact us to see how we can assist you.