New Jersey Municipal Court – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What is municipal court?

A: It is a trial court that deals exclusively with cases involving city ordinance violations. Offenses brought before a municipal court are those that occur within the limits of the municipality.

Q: What types of cases are heard in municipal court?

A:  Violations of Motor Vehicle and Traffic Violations

Disorderly and Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses

Violations of Municipal Ordinances

Q: Am I required to appear in municipal court?

A:   If you were issued a summons and the officer checked the Court Appearance required box, you must appear in court on the scheduled date. Additionally, some violations are non-payable and require a court appearance.

Q: If I’m required to appear in court, what is the first thing I should do?

A:   The first thing you should do retain counsel.

Q: Am I entitled to a public defender?

A:   It depends. A public defender is only available to a defendant who meets specific indigency requirements and who has been charged with a serious criminal or traffic offense with the potential for any sentence of imprisonment, any suspension of driver’s license, or any fines and penalties totaling more than $750.

Q: I do not qualify for a public defender, should I hire an attorney?

A:   Yes, an experienced municipal court defense attorney will be able to spot weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case and advocate a strong defense on your behalf. In addition, an attorney will likely be able to get your initial court date pushed back.

Q: Why is it important to get my court date changed to a later date?

A:   It is important to push your court date back until you can receive all    discovery from the prosecutor.

Q: What is discovery?

A:   Discovery consists of any documents, videos, photos or any other  evidence the State has against you. Going to court without all discovery materials is going to court unprepared.

Q: I was issued a traffic summons but it does not require a court appearance, should I plead guilty and mail the fee to the court?

A:  No. Although many traffic offenses may seem minor, they can have serious unexpected consequences. Often clients walk into our office facing fines, fees or a license suspension due to traffic offenses they pleaded guilty to by mail without first consulting with an attorney.  Some clients walk into our office having plead guilty to a disorderly persons offense without the assistance of counsel and now have a criminal record that is substantially impacting their lives.  Hire an experienced municipal court defense attorney to avoid these negative consequences.

Q: I went to municipal court alone and I lost my case. What can I do?

A:  You have the right to file an appeal. You must file a municipal court appeal with the Superior Court of New Jersey in the designated county within 20 days from your disposition date. However, this process is procedurally complicated. If you wish to appeal your municipal court case, we strongly recommend that you have the assistance of an attorney.

Q: I want to hire Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo to represent me, how much will it cost?

A:  Each case is unique. The facts and circumstances of the offense can vary the cost. At Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo we provide aggressive representation at a an affordable price. Contact us to arrange a free initial consultation.