The Superior Court Assignment Judge is the chief judicial officer in each vicinage. A vicinage is a geographical division composed of a single county or a group of counties. There are 15 vicinages in New Jersey. The Honorable Mary Jacobson is the Assignment Judge for Mercer County. The Assignment Judge has overall responsibility for the administration of all Courts within the vicinage, including the Municipal Courts. Each vicinage has a Presiding Judge who must be a Municipal Court Judge, and who is responsible to the Assignment Judge. The Honorable Roger T. Haley is the Presiding Judge for Mercer County. Each vicinage also has a Municipal Division Manager, who works with and under the direction of the Assignment Judge and Presiding Judge. David Eberhardt is the Municipal Division Manager for Mercer County. Together, this management team is charged with the administration and oversight of the Municipal Courts. More information can be found at www.njcourtsonline.com.
Municipal Court Judges
Attorneys who are New Jersey residents and have practiced law for at least five years may be appointed to three year terms as Municipal Court Judges by the Mayor, with the advice and consent of the council, or in some cases by the governing body. In joint Municipal Courts, which are courts serving more than one municipality, the appointment is made by the Governor with the advice and consent of the State Senate. Municipal Court Judges do not have tenure and are not subject to a mandatory retirement age, characteristics which distinguish them from other Judges in the Judiciary. The majority of the State’s Municipal Court Judges serve only part-time and, as a result, are able to maintain private law practices, subject to the Rules of Court.
Municipal Courts of New Jersey were established in 1948. Judges that have presided in Ewing Township Municipal Court are listed below:
COMPLAINANT: The complainant is the person who signed the complaint in a legal action or proceeding. The complainant is a witness for the State and will be given an opportunity to speak with the Municipal Prosecutor about the case.
DEFENDANT: The defendant is the person formally accused of the violation in a legal action or proceeding. The defendant will be informed of the charges, possible penalties and right to a lawyer. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The Defense Attorney is the lawyer the defendant hires to represent himself/herself in a legal action or proceeding.
PROSECUTOR: The Prosecutor is the lawyer appointed by the municipality to represent the State.
PUBLIC DEFENDER: The Public Defender is the lawyer appointed by the municipality to represent those defendants who cannot afford their own lawyer.
VICTIM: The person who is harmed or made to suffer from an act.
WITNESS: Someone who testifies as to what was seen, heard or otherwise known or offers evidence in court.
Who Is Entitled To The Public Defender?
A defendant is entitled to be represented by the Public Defender, when the defendant is facing a Consequence of Magnitude; the potential sentence presents a risk of going to jail, losing driving privileges or receiving a substantial fine ($750 or more), and the court establishes that the defendant cannot afford an attorney. The defendant will be required to complete an application form that can be obtained from the court. The court may charge a non-refundable application fee of not more than $200.00. The Judge reviews the application and decides if the Defendant qualifies for the Public Defender. Proof of income or employment, tax returns or pay stubs may be required.
What Is Bail?
If a warrant has been issued for your arrest, then bail money must be posted in order to lift the warrant, unless otherwise ordered by the judge. Bail is money posted with the court to secure the release of the defendant with the condition that the defendant will appear for every court proceeding until final disposition. Bail may be posted at the Violations Bureau Window during payment hours. Bail money cannot be taken over the phone, by mail or via the internet. If it is after payment hours, you can also post bail at your local New Jersey Police Department. They will forward the bail money to this court at which time the warrant will be lifted and your matter will be scheduled for court. The bail may be forfeited if the defendant fails to appear in court and a warrant may be reissued.
Some matters are eligible for a “Bail Waiver.” By executing the form of “Authorization to Apply Bail against Fines and Costs and Waiver of Rights”, a defendant against whom a warrant has been issued waives the rights to a lawyer and a trial, enters a plea of guilty to the offense charged and authorizes the municipal court administrator to apply the bail posted toward the payment of fines, assessments and costs owed. This form may be used for offenses payable through the Violations Bureau.
What Is Probation?
Probation is a sentence that judges can impose on people in certain cases. Probation allows an offender to serve his or her sentence under the supervision of a probation officer. A sentence of probation may require an offender to pay fines, to pay restitution to the victim of his or her offense, to seek counseling for substance abuse or for family problems, or to perform various community service work. People on probation remain under the authority of the court until probation is completed. Offenders who violate the conditions of probation may be returned to the court and may be resentenced.
What Are Possible Penalties Upon Conviction?
The conviction of a disorderly persons offense could result in a maximum fine of $1,000.00 and other mandatory assessments. The conviction of a petty disorderly persons offense could result in a maximum fine of $500.00 and other mandatory assessments. The Municipal Court may impose a jail sentence that cannot exceed six months for disorderly persons offense and cannot exceed 30 days for a petty disorderly persons offense. Certain criminal and traffic offense convictions require mandatory license suspensions. The judge is mandated to order community service on certain traffic offense convictions and may order it on a criminal offense conviction. The judge may order probation on certain criminal offense convictions. Community Service and Probation is served through the Mercer County Probation Department.
What Is An Expungement?
Expungement means the extraction and isolation of all records on file within any court of an offense within the criminal justice system. New Jersey law provides a limited right to expungement. The purpose of the law is to give a person who has either one or very few convictions a fresh start. The law also provides for the removal of records of arrests where the arrest did not end in a conviction. The expungement law states in detail who is eligible for an expungement. You should review N.J.S.A. 2C:52-1 et seq. to determine if you are eligible. An eligible person must prepare and file a Petition of Expungement. A Petition of Expungement must be filed in the Superior Court in the county where the arrest or prosecution took place. A judge then decides whether the person should be granted an Expungement Order, which means that with some exception, the criminal proceedings never happened.
Any person convicted of an indictable offense under the laws of this State and who has not been convicted of any prior or subsequent crime, whether within this State or any other jurisdiction, and has not been adjudged a disorderly person or petty disorderly person on more than two occasions may, after the expiration of a period of 10 years from the date of his conviction, payment of fine, satisfactory completion of probation or parole, or release from incarceration, whichever is later, file a Petition for Expungement. Please refer to 2C:52-2 for more details.
Any person convicted of a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense under the laws of this State who has not been convicted of any prior or subsequent crime, whether within this State or any other jurisdiction, or of another three disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses, may, after the expiration of a period of 5 years from the date of the conviction, payment of fine, satisfactory completion of probation or release from incarceration, whichever is later, file a Petition for Expungement. Any person that has been found guilty of violating a municipal ordinance of any governmental entity of this State and who has not been convicted of any prior or subsequent crime, whether within this State of any other jurisdiction, and who has not been adjudged a disorderly person or petty disorderly person on more than two occasions, may, after the expiration of a period of 2 years from the date of conviction, payment of fine, satisfactory completion of probation or release from incarceration whichever is later, file a Petition for Expungement. Any person that has been arrested or held to answer for a crime, disorderly persons offense, petty disorderly persons offense or municipal ordinance violation under the laws of this State or of any governmental entity thereof and against whom proceedings were dismissed, or acquitted or was discharged without a conviction or finding of guilt, may at the time following the disposition of proceedings, file a Petition for Expungement.
If you are filing a Petition for Expungement for charges that arose from Ewing Township, the Petition for Expungement would be filed in Mercer County Superior Court. You can contact this court for a Pro Se Expungement Package or go to www.njcourtsonline.com.