Hours of Municipal Court are 8:30 Am to 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday. Court is scheduled on Mondays at 5 PM. The Municipal Court is a local court created by State law. Practice and procedures are governed by New Jersey Court Rules. The Municipal Court Judge is responsible for overseeing the administration of the Municipal Court.
Contact the Municipal Court office for Zoom instructions.
Cases heard in Municipal Court are divided into four general categories:
- Violations of Motor Vehicle and traffic laws.
- Violations of disorderly and petty disorderly persons offenses.
- Violations of Fish and Game laws, Parks and Forests, Weights and Measures, SPCA and Boating regulations.
- Violations of Municipal Ordinances (local laws).
More serious offenses, known as indictable offenses, are arraigned in Municipal Court but then sent to the County Prosecutor’s Office.
Each municipality appoints its own Municipal Court Judge. An Informational Guide is available in the office.
For helpful information regarding the court system, to pay a payable traffic summons, to check on your court date or for information regarding points which maybe assessed to you or a result of your traffic summons, please go to the New Jersey Judiciary Home Page at njmcdirect.com.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- You have the RIGHT TO BE INFORMED OF THE CHARGES against you.
- You have the RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT concerning the charges against you, and anything you say may be held against you.
- You may plead GUILTY or NOT GUILTY to certain non-indictable charges against you, such as traffic offenses, disorderly persons offenses and ordinances.
- If you are charged with an INDICTABLE offense, the Judge cannot ask for your plea because you have the right to a probable cause hearing before the judge and a trial by jury at the county level if the Grand Jury indicts you. There are, however, certain INDICTABLE offenses that may be tried by the judge if you waive indictment and trial by jury in writing and the county prosecutor consents. You have the right to be informed if you have been charged with such an offense.
- You have the RIGHT TO RETAIN AN ATTORNEY.
- You have the RIGHT TO BE ASSIGNED AN ATTORNEY if:
- You are charged with an indictable offense and the state public defender determines that you cannot afford an attorney, or
- You are charged with a non-indictable offense and the judge determines you cannot afford an attorney and there is a likelihood that you are convicted you will either go to jail, receive a substantial fine, or your driver's license will be suspended.
- You have the right to obtain a REASONABLE POSTPONEMENT so that you may have an opportunity to consult with your attorney and prepare a proper defense.
- You are PRESUMED TO BE INNOCENT until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. For some violations, the required proof is by a preponderance of the credible evidence as, for example, violation proceedings, Breathalyzer refusal violations, Penalty Enforcement Actions, Fish and Games, etc.
- You have the RIGHT TO TESTIFY or NOT TO TESTIFY on your own behalf.
IF YOU COME TO COURT FOR A TRAFFIC OFFENSE and you have not been previously notified the court of your intention to plead NOT GUILTY, speak to the court administrator immediately. If the officer or others involved can be contacted to testify, your case may be heard. If they cannot be reached, you will have to make another court appearance at a later date.
IF YOU PLEAD GUILTY, it is not necessary to have a trial. You have admitted that you have violated the law. However, you may then explain to the judge any extenuating circumstances. The judge will then impose sentence.
IF YOU PLEAD NOT GUILTY, you and the witnesses will be placed under oath to speak the truth. It is necessary for the prosecution to prove the charges against you. Your attorney has the right to ask the prosecution's witnesses any question pertaining to the charges. If you do not have an attorney, present your questions for the witness to the judge.
WHEN THE PROSECUTION HAS FINISHED, you may then present your own witnesses or testify in your own behalf. You are not forced to testify against yourself, but you may testify if you desire. Any evidence you give may be used by either side. If you do testify, the prosecution has the right to ask you any questions pertaining to the charges.
WHEN ALL THE WITNESSES HAVE TESTIFIED, you or your attorney may tell the court why you think you should be found Not Guilty.
If the court finds you Guilty, and you feel the judgment or the sentence was in error, YOU HAVE TWENTY (20) DAYS WITHIN WHICH TO APPEAL. Appeals in practically all instances will be heard by the Superior Court, Law Division.
Damages resulting from a collision cannot be tried by this court. This court is only concerned with violations of the state statutes and municipal ordinances.
Every person has the right to make his own defense without an attorney, but if you are in doubt as to your proper course, it is recommended that you consult an attorney.
You are not required to have a lawyer for a municipal court matter. The decision is yours.
It is important to understand that court staff are interested in answering all procedural questions you may have about how the court will handle your case. However, they cannot offer legal advice or make recommendations to you about your case or recommend a lawyer.
A Defendant is entitled to be represented by the Public Defender when:
- The potential sentence presents a risk of the Defendant going to jail, losing driving privileges or receiving a substantial fine, and/or
- The court determines that the Defendant is unable to afford a lawyer
The Defendant will be required to complete an application form that can be obtained from the court. The court may charge a non-refundable application fee of up to $200. The Judge will review the application and decide if the Defendant qualifies for a Public Defender. Proof of income or employment (tax returns, pay stubs, etc.) may be required.
Non-criminal matters such as Traffic, Boating, Local Ordinance, Fish and Game, and Parks and Forests violations can often be paid through the mail or at the court office, also known as a Violations Bureau.
If you wish to plead guilty and give up your right to a hearing for such a violation, you may do so, provided "court appearance required" has not been checked on the ticket and provided the charge is listed on the Statewide Violations Bureau Schedule. If the penalty does not appear on the back of the ticket, contact the court office to find out whether a court appearance is required.
To pay your summons complete, the APPEARANCE, PLEA AND WAIVER section on the back of your ticket and bring or mail it with payment in the correct amount, to the Violations Bureau at the address found on the ticket. Payment is due by the court date. Payments received after the court date may be assessed additional penalties.
Failure to pay may result in a suspension of your driving privileges and the issuance of a warrant.
Traffic tickets and some other municipal court summonses can be paid online as well by clicking here.
If you intend to plead not guilty to the offense charged on the summons and you want to have a trial, you must notify the court at least seven days before your scheduled date. (Address and other instructions can be found on your summons.) If you fail to notify the court, it may be necessary for you to make two court appearances.
A court appearance is always required for criminal matters, such as an assault, shoplifting, harassment or drug charge. In traffic or other matters, if "court appearance required" is checked on the ticket, you must appear in court at the time and place indicated, even if you wish to plead guilty.
If "court appearance required" is not checked on the traffic ticket, you must still appear in court if:
- You wish to have a trial
- The charge is not listed on the statewide Violations Bureau Schedule
- Person injury is involved
Please notify the appropriate court of disability accommodation needs.
On your court date, you should arrive at the courthouse about 15 minutes early. To assist you, I've listed some examples of proper courtroom "etiquette" as follows:
- You may not use any electronic devices in the courtroom, unless you are a member of the New Jersey Bar or you have prior written approval from the Trial Court Administrator. This includes cell phones. You must have your cell phone turned off during the court session. Remain quiet until called by the Judge. An audio recording is made of every court session. To preserve all litigants' rights the only people talking should be the people addressed by the court (Judge).
- When you enter the courtroom, please remove your hat (unless doing so conflicts with your religious beliefs).
- You may not eat, drink or smoke in the courtroom.
- You should only read court-provided informational pamphlets or material pertaining to your case. All parties must be seated (fire regulations).You should remain seated until called. However, when addressing the Judge, you should always stand if physically possible.
- While children are not prohibited, court is not a "fun" place for children. It is difficult for them to be quiet and stay still, as needed to preserve all parties rights. It is recommended that you arrange childcare for your children and not bring them to court.
It is very important that you arrive in court on the day and time stated on your ticket, summons, subpoena or court notice. Before the session starts or once court begins, a court staff member will be in the courtroom checking you in and directing you. If you arrive late or if you come and do not see a staff member checking people in, you should notify court personnel at the court window immediately. You may also wish to check the court calendar posted at the entrance to the courtroom to verify that your matter is listed.
At the beginning of the court session, the Judge will give an opening statement explaining court procedures, Defendants' rights and penalties. As each case is called, the Judge will individually advise each Defendant of his or her rights. A case may be postponed to permit the Defendant to hire a lawyer. If the Defendant wishes to go ahead without a lawyer, the Judge will ask for his or her plea. If the Defendant pleads guilty, the Judge will ask questions regarding the offense charged to make sure there is good reason for the guilty plea.
If the Defendant pleads not guilty and all involved parties are present and prepared, the case will proceed to trial. Once the Judge has heard the testimony, he or she will decide if the Defendant is guilty, not guilty or if the case should be dismissed. If the Defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty after a trial, the Judge will impose a sentence.
All Municipal Court proceedings are sound recorded. Please remain quiet. The length of time you will be in court depends on many things. Some cases take longer than others. So, please be patient.
If the Defendant does not appear, a warrant may be issued and his or her driving privileges may be suspended. Witnesses will be notified through the mail when they are to return.
The order in which cases are called is controlled by the New Jersey Court Rules. Cases are generally called in the following order:
- Requests for postponements Arraignments (Advising Defendants of rights/penalties)
- Guilty pleas
- Where Defendant is represented by a lawyer.
- Where the Defendant is not represented by a lawyer
- Not guilty pleas
- Where Defendant is represented by a lawyer.
- Where the Defendant is not represented by a lawyer
There are no jury trials in the Municipal Court. At the trial date, the Judge will take testimony from all witnesses under oath. The Defendant and his or her lawyer, if represented, will sit at one table. The Prosecutor will sit at the other table. Witnesses may be asked to stay outside the courtroom until it is their turn to testify. The Prosecutor will go first and will present any witnesses or evidence needed to prove the charge against the Defendant. Each witness will either swear or affirm to tell the truth. As each witness for the prosecution testifies, the Defendant or his or her lawyer, if represented, will have an opportunity to ask questions about what was testified to. This is called cross-examination.
Once the prosecution is finished, it will be the Defendant's turn. The Defendant can present witnesses or other evidence to disprove the Prosecutor's case. The Defendant does not have to provide any information and does not have to testify. It is up to the prosecution to prove the case "beyond a reasonable doubt."
When all the witnesses have testified, the Defendant or his or her lawyer may tell the Judge why the case was not proven against the Defendant.
The Judge, after hearing all the testimony and witnesses, will make the decision whether the case has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If the Judge finds the Defendant "Not Guilty," the case is over.
If the Judge finds the Defendant "Guilty," the Judge will sentence the Defendant.
Before trial, a Defendant may speak with the Prosecutor to try to settle his or her case through a plea agreement.
The New Jersey Supreme Court allows plea agreements to be made within the Municipal Courts, except in drunk driving and certain drug-related cases. It is an agreement between the Defendant and the Prosecutor about how the case will be handled. In exchange for a guilty plea, the Prosecutor may amend the charge to one that is less serious or that may result in fewer points on as driver's license. Certain charges may be dismissed or a specific sentence may be recommended. The Judge must approve all plea agreements.
The Judge must follow the law in deciding the amount of any fine imposed. Sometimes there are minimum penalties and mandatory assessments that must be imposed by law. Fines are generally expected to be paid at the time they are imposed.
The Judge may allow the fine to be paid in installments if he or she is satisfied that payment cannot be made in full. You may apply for partial payments by filling out a form. The Judge will then make a decision about your payment arrangements. You will sign a court order that will explain the terms of your payments. Failure to comply with this order can result in a warrant for your arrest and/or suspension of your driving privileges.
The maximum jail term that can be imposed for offenses heard in the municipal court is six months. Sentences are served at the Atlantic County Justice Facility.
Many offenses require suspensions for a minimum period. You cannot drive for any reason until the period of suspension ends, you have paid your restoration fee, and have received written notification from the Division of Motor Vehicles that your driving privileges have been restored. If your license has been suspended for failure to appear, pay fines, or comply with a condition of your sentence, generally it will not be restored until your case is completed. Conditional or special work licenses are not allowed in New Jersey.
Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC)
If convicted of DWI or refusal to take a Breathalyzer, the court must order attendance at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, where the Defendant must satisfy the screening, evaluation, referral program and fee requirements. Failure to comply with the IRDC guidelines will result in further court action.
By law, the Judge must order community service for certain traffic offenses and may order community service for a criminal conviction. The Defendant must work for a municipality or non-profit organization for a certain period of time without compensation. Failure to perform community service will result in the case being returned to court.
In addition to the penalties imposed by the court for moving traffic violations, the Division of Motor Vehicles will also assess points on driving records. Most violations result in two points, but it can be as high as eight for a single offense. The New Jersey Department of Insurance may also assess surcharges on insurance payments.
This procedure allows Defendants charged with certain drug offenses to be monitored for a period of time determined by the court. The Judge may require the Defendant to attend drug counseling and have random drug tests. To be eligible, a Defendant must have:
- Never been convicted of a drug offense in any state or federal court, and
- Never been granted a conditional discharge before
- Never received Pre-Trail Intervention (PTI) or Pre-Trial Diversion in any state or federal court
If granted a conditional discharge, the Defendant must pay mandatory assessments, and the Judge may suspend his or her driving privileges. If during the monitoring period no additional offenses have been committed, and there is compliance with all conditions (including satisfying all financial obligations), the original charges will be dismissed.
If you do not agree with the court's decision, you may appeal to the Superior Court. The appeal does not involve a new trial. No new testimony or new witnesses may be considered. The Superior Court reviews the transcript of the Municipal Court Judge, and will reverse the decision only if there has been a mistake made regarding the facts or the law.
An appeal must be filed within twenty (20) calendar days of the Municipal Court Judge's decision. A filing fee and transcript deposit is due at that time. Upon request, the Court Administrator will supply all of the necessary forms to be filed with the court office to appeal the decision. You may request that your penalty be stayed (put on hold) pending the appeal. The Municipal Court Judge will decide whether or not to do so.
The Judge, Court Administrator, or a police officer may suggest that the parties try to settle their differences through mediation. This is a confidential process which allows the parties to meet with a mediator who will aid them in resolving their dispute. You may request mediation before your court date, and the court will decide if your case is eligible. Often mediation takes place on the same day as court. If this is not possible, a future date will be assigned. You may request mediation instead of filing a formal complaint.
Bail is the money or property deposited with the court to obtain the temporary release of a Defendant on the condition that the Defendant will appear in court at every stage of the proceedings until final disposition. (This can be a dismissal, a plea of guilty or a finding of guilty or not guilty.)
Checks and money orders are generally accepted for bail, but must be made payable to the respective court on the warrant. The identification of the person posting bail must match the name and address printed on the check. Checks are not permitted to be accepted on certain charges.
Bail may be forfeited if the Defendant fails to appear for any court date and a warrant may be reissued. It is important that the person who is released on bail knows the exact date and time of his or her court date and appears at that time.
Bail can only be returned to the person who posted it. The bail receipt should be brought to court to expedite the return of bail. It may be possible to apply the bail to any fines or assessments that are imposed by the court if the owner of the bail agrees.
In some minor traffic offenses, a bail waiver may be signed. In this instance, the Defendant enters a guilty plea, gives up his or her right to a trial and authorizes the court to apply the bail posted against fines and costs owed.
Please notify court staff as soon as possible if you need a foreign language or sign interpreter. Please be sure to include in your notification any special language dialect required.