In Municipal Court, the New Jersey Rules (an elaborate series of principles, rules and procedures) govern whether facts (written, tangible, graphic or spoken) are admitted into evidence to establish your guilt or innocence. Also applicable are the New Jersey Rules of criminal procedure, with minor exceptions.
Once your case is called before the Judge, the order and procedure of your case is usually conducted in the following manner:
- Defense counsel or the Prosecutor offers his/her pretrial motions. These motions often address some aspect of evidence, admissibility of evidence or some other issue the prosecution or defense deems important to their case; then
- An opening statement about the case is offered by defense counsel and the prosecutor to the judge; then
- The prosecutor presents his or her case including testimony and direct evidence. Defense counsel will often raise objections to evidence and test the facts of the prosecutor’s case; then
- Defense counsel cross examines the prosecutor’s witness(es) and evidence; then
- Your defense counsel presents your case including the testimony of your witnesses, admission of evidence, etc.; then
- The prosecution cross examines your witnesses and expert witnesses (if any); then
- At the conclusion of the state’s case and your case, motions for judgment of acquittal are made by defense counsel; then
- Summations are given by defense counsel and the prosecutor to the court. In their summations each attorney addresses the evidence and the facts of the case; then
- The Judge gives his/her decision for or against your innocence. Under the Court Rules, the Judge must give the reasons which caused him or her to come to their decision. This is generally done verbally in open court and on the record. Sometimes the Judge reserves their decision for a reasonable period of time to come to a decision; then
- If convicted, defense counsel and the prosecutor recommend to the Judge the sentence that should be imposed; then optionally
- An appeal of the Judge’s decision is filed with the Clerk of the Superior Court (see the page entitled Appealing a Municipal Court Conviction/Decision, found on this website.
As you can see from this summary, it is important that you understand the progression of your case and select a defense counsel that will aggressively work to protect your interests before, during and after your trial. Let us protect you. Call Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll free at (855) 376-5291 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He welcomes you to our office.
Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a New Jersey Municipal Law Attorney