Appealing a Municipal Court Conviction/Decision
Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a New Jersey Municipal Law Attorney
Let’s face it. Justice does not always prevail. Remember the O.J. Simpson case or the recent Casey Anthony acquittal? The same holds true in New Jersey’s Municipal courts. The Judge doesn’t always get it right. He or she may have had a bad day, been tired or distracted. In addition, the judge might have missed key facts or have been biased in favor of the cops or the prosecutor.
If that has been your situation, you have a right to appeal any decision of the Judge. But you have to act immediately. Why, because New Jersey has strict (very strict) time limits to appeal the decision of the Municipal Court.
How Appeals from Municipal Court are Handled
How does an appeal from a Municipal Court decision work? An appeal is filed with either the Clerk of the New Jersey Superior Court or to the New Jersey Appellate Division of Superior Court, depending upon the type of conviction and the status of the Municipal Court Judge.
Sometimes, your attorney can persuade the Municipal Court Judge to stay (hold off) on enforcing the conviction, fine or penalty. That’s where the skill of an effective New Jersey Municipal Court attorney experienced in New Jersey appeal law comes in. That skill is both substantive, meaning knowledgeable in the law, as well as interpersonal. If a stay is granted, the Judge can attach conditions to the stay that are reasonable and appropriate. Again, another reason to have a strong advocate by your side.
As previously mentioned, an appeal from the Municipal Court must be timely made. That time limit is 20 days after entering judgment. In addition, an appeal must comply with a number of additional requirements specified in the Court rules otherwise it will be dismissed. Following the filing of an appeal, counsel can apply for relief from any jail sentence by posting bail and from any penalty, fine, costs, upon terms and conditions acceptable to the Appellate Judge. Generally you will be expected to post a deposit in cash or a bond in an amount required under the Rules of Court.
New Jersey Court Rules lay out the progression of how your appeal will go. The Appellate Judge will either uphold the conviction, set it aside or reverse the decision of the Municipal Court Judge, whereupon your sentence will be discharged, conviction reversed and all fines and costs paid by you returned to you.
As you can conclude by reading this page, appeals from Municipal Courts are time sensitive and procedurally detailed. Think twice before going it on your own. If you make a mistake, your rights will be jeopardized.
Contact an experienced New Jersey Municipal Court Appeal Lawyer, Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann toll free at (855) 376-5291 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. A member of our office will sit with you and evaluate the merits of taking or not taking an appeal of your New Jersey Municipal Court decision. You’ll find Mr. Niemann and the members of Hanlon Niemann easy to talk to and confident in their legal advice.
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