What Happens at Municipal Court?
Facing a criminal charge is never something you should take lightly. Heading to the court to face even a speeding ticket can be intimidating and confusing. What will happen once you get in that courtroom? Will the prosecutor be harsh and the judge even harsher? Can you defend yourself without the presence of an attorney? Or should you have one present with you?
It is natural to be anxious when heading to court. That’s why we’re here to give you a breakdown of what to expect when facing a criminal charge.
Municipal Court: When You Have a Minor Charge
All criminal complaints are filed in Municipal Court. If the charges you’re facing are severe, such as robbery or assault, your case will be transferred to Superior Court. However, if your charge is minor, such as a traffic violation, simple assault, or a building code violation, your court case will be heard in Municipal Court.
Although the cases are relatively minor on the Municipal Court level, the penalties of being found guilty are not as minor. You could still be facing jail time, fines, points on your license, and even suspension of your driver’s license.
You do not have to hire an attorney to defend your rights; however, that does not mean you shouldn’t have one present. Any time you step in a courtroom, you should have a lawyer by your side to help you with your claim.
The Municipal Court Process
What happens during your court appearance? The following will occur:
When it’s time for your case to be heard, the judge will first explain the charges to you and what the maximum penalties you will be facing. The judge will also inform you of your constitutional rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present.
The prosecutor will then present the government’s case against you. His/her case will include giving testimony and any evidence that shows you committed the crime you are accused of.
Once the prosecutor rest, it is time to present your case. This includes having witnesses testify, presenting photographs and documents. Remember, you must allow the prosecutor to examine your evidence.
Your Sentence: What to Expect
If you are found guilty or you enter a guilty plea, the judge will impose a sentence immediately. This could be anything from a suspended license and fines to jail time and probation. You may also be required to pay for court costs.
You do have the right to appeal the decision to the Superior Court; however, if you decide to appeal, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney to see if you have a claim.
Heading to Municipal Court? We Can Help!
Criminal matters should never be taken lightly. You need to be prepared for your court appearance, and you should always have a lawyer present to protect your rights.
The Law Offices of Anthony Carbone has been handling criminal charges for hundreds of clients throughout New Jersey. We are prepared to fight for your rights. Contact us today for a free consultation.