Try to get a lawyer
The Court system can be complicated and confusing. We recommend that you have a lawyer in every case. If you cannot afford a lawyer or do not know how to go about finding a lawyer you can:
- Call the New Jersey Attorney Referral Office in your county, or
- Ask any of the New Jersey bar associations for the names of lawyers who may be able to represent you at a reduced price.
NOTE: If you believe you qualify for a Court-appointed attorney, ask the Court staff at either the Municipal or Superior Court for more information. The Court staff can provide the form needed to apply for a Public Defender.
WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT IF YOU REPRESENT YOURSELF
While you have the right to represent yourself in Court, you should not expect any special treatment, help, or attention from the Court. The following is a list of some things the Court staff can and cannot do for you. Please read it carefully before asking the Court staff for help.
- We can explain and answer questions about how the Court works.
- We can tell you what the requirements are to have your case considered by the Court.
- We can give you some information from your case file.
- We can provide you with samples of Court forms that are available.
- We can provide you with guidance on how to fill out forms.
- We can usually answer questions about Court deadlines
- We cannot give you legal advice. Only a lawyer can give you legal advice.
- We cannot tell you whether or not you should bring your case to Court.
- We cannot give you an opinion about what will happen if you bring your case to Court.
- Wecannot recommend a lawyer, but
- We can provide you with the telephone number of a local lawyer referral service.
- We cannot talk to the Judge for you about what will happen in your case.
- We cannot let you talk to the Judge outside of Court.
- We cannot change an order issued by a Judge.
If you decide to represent yourself for an appeal of a decision of the Judge, please see a member of the Court Staff for an appeal packet.
The following procedures shall be observed in regards to your summons or complaint.
- Please sign-in on the pad when you enter Court.
- Your name MUST be printed.
- To see the prosecutor, see the Court Officer at the rear of the Court.
- The Prosecutor will talk with you on a first come – first served basis.
- Please be aware of the fact that attorneys may “jump” ahead of you in the line. They are allowed to do this.
- If you are pleading Not Guilty to a summons or complaint and have not notified the Court seven workdays in advance you case will not be heard during this Court session.
- Please leave the Court and call (908-876-3852) the following day to plead not guilty.
- This does not include summonses where the police officer has indicated, “Court appearance required” or it is a non-payable offense.
- At the beginning of the Court session the Judge will advise you of your rights.
Please pay close attention to these rights.
If you do not understand them, you may ask for clarification at the time your case is being heard.
- Court cases are usually heard in the following order:
- Guilty pleas
- Negotiated settlements
- Trials (not guilty cases)
- Cases with attorneys
- These cases are heard as they are presented to the Court.
- If you intend to ask for a Public Defender you must meet one of the following qualifications:
- You are subject to lose you driving privileges, and/or
- You are subject to incarceration in jail, and/or
- You are subject to the imposition of a significant fine.
- Unless one of the criteria is met, you are not entitled to the Public Defender.
- If you are found Guilty and are assessed fines and costs by the Judge, you are expected to pay those fines and costs before leaving the Court.
- If you have dismissed a complaint and the Judge assesses a penalty you must pay this before leaving the Court.
- Failure to do either of the above may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest and/or a suspension of your driving privileges.
- If for some reason you cannot pay the entire amount of your fines and costs, you may make arrangements with the Court to make time payments.
- These payments must be made within a 26 week period as allowed by Court Rules.
- If you fall behind in the payments the Court willl forward a notice to the Division of Motor Vehicles requesting revocation of your driving privileges.
- The restoration fee, to restore your driving privileges, is $100.00.
- Restoration of your your driving privileges will only be granted when the time payment is fully paid.
- All time payments are a contract with the Court, and are subject to acceptance by the Judge.