What To Expect In New
Jersey Municipal Court
What should I expect when I go to court?
A: When you enter the courtroom, you will need to check-in to let the court staff know you are present. They will pull your file for the prosecutor. If you are represented by an attorney, you can then go find a seat and wait for your attorney to find you. Your attorney will meet with the prosecutor to discuss your case and then find you to discuss the case. If you are not represented by a private attorney or public defender, the prosecutor will call your file during the session to discuss your matter.
Do I need to turn my phone off?
A: Yes. Some courts require you to leave your phone in the car. Some courts require your phone to be off. Some require your phone to be on silent. One of the court officers will make an announcement with instructions for the court room. Listen to the instructions and follow them. If you are not allowed to use your phone in the court you are in, the phone could be confiscated until the end of the court session.
Will the judge give an opening statement?
A: Most municipal judges will take attorney cases that are ready first. Afterwards, the judge will give an opening statement explaining the court procedures, your rights and potential penalties. Some courts have this opening statement on video and play it while you are waiting for the judge to begin.
What happens if I plead guilty in court?
A: If you plead guilty in court, the judge will ask you various questions about your offense and guilty plea to ensure that you know what you are doing and that you truly want to plead guilty to the offense. The judge will elicit a factual basis from you giving the details of why you are guilty of the offense you are pleading to. The judge will make sure your plea is voluntary and no one if forcing you to plead guilty. The judge will then accept your guilty plea and impose a sentence. You will then be required to pay any fines imposed. If you need a payment plan, this would be the time to ask the judge.
Can I appeal a decision of the court?
A: If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you can appeal within 20 days of your conviction. You will be required to pay a deposit that will be applied against the cost of obtaining a transcript of your proceeding that you are appealing. You will also have to pay a filing fee for the appeal. Most municipal court staff can provide you with an appeal packet or direct you where to obtain one if you are handling the appeal on your own.
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