Municipal courts have jurisdiction over minor criminal matters – typically called “disorderly persons” offenses.

The local municipal courts also deal with traffic violations, including such charges as “reckless driving” and “driving while intoxicated.”

It is important to remember that although these offenses do not rise to the level of “crimes” as defined by law, the penalties can still be very harsh.

For example, a judge still has the ability to sentence an offender to a maximum of six months in jail for certain disorderly persons offenses. He also has the power to revoke a driver’s license for up to one year for such offenses as “driving without insurance” and for a first offense of “DWI” charge.

Even in municipal court, the local prosecutor still has the burden of proof to substantiate “beyond a reasonable doubt” that all the elements of the offense have been proven.

Our law firm has had many years of experience successfully defending those who have been charged in the various municipalities throughout the state.

In a case that is expected to have wide-reaching ramifications, the N.J. Supreme Court this fall will wrestle with how to treat a refusal to submit to a breath test for drivers stopped under suspicion of drunk driving. The high court’s ruling in the case, which has attracted the attention of the N.J. State Bar Association, could affect a large swath of the public. In 1979, Eileen Ciancaglini was convicted of DWI and 18 years later was convicted of refusing to take a breathalyzer test. In 2008, she pleaded guilty to DWI and was sentenced as a third-time offender and ordered to spend six months in jail, plus revocation of her license. On appeal, a Law Division judge said the refusal conviction shouldn’t be counted as a DWI . But last year, the Appellate Division said that it should and that sentencing her as a three-time DWI offender was proper.

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