The state of New Jersey uses somewhat different terminology to identify minor criminal infractions, referring to them generally as “disorderly persons offenses.” Disorderly persons offenses include a wide range of violations, including driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). All disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey are within the jurisdiction of the municipal courts.
If you’re ticketed or arrested and charged with a disorderly persons offense, you’ll receive notice of the date for a mandatory court appearance. You must attend this hearing; if you don’t, a bench warrant can be issued for your arrest.
At the hearing, the judge will notify you of all charges against you, read you a statement of your rights, explain the procedures the court will follow, and give you plea options:
If you plead not guilty and get an adjournment, the court is likely to set a trial date, but you may have other hearings before your case gets to trial, including motions to determine the admissibility of certain types of evidence.
New Jersey municipal courts do not have jury trials. The judge takes all testimony, considers all evidence, and makes a ruling. The prosecutor has the burden of proof to demonstrate your culpability beyond a reasonable doubt. You can testify on your own behalf but are not required to. However, if you do testify, the prosecutor has the right to cross-examine you.
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