A municipal court hears cases involving minor criminal offenses that are committed within the borders of a specific municipality. (In New Jersey, a municipality is a town, township, city or borough.) Examples of minor criminal offenses are simple assault, trespassing, shoplifting or writing bad checks.
New Jersey municipal courts also handle motor vehicle violations and violations of municipal ordinances, such as building code violations or parking tickets.
Transfers from Municipal Court - Sometimes more serious cases, such as those involving assault, robbery, or auto theft, begin in municipal court but are transferred to the Superior Court.
Appeals from Municipal Court - After a trial in municipal court, cases may be appealed to the Law Division of the Superior Court; some may be appealed to the Criminal Part and others to the Civil Part. There is more information about the Law Division of the Superior Court below.
Municipal Court Services (from the New Jersey Judiciary) contains more information about the municipal courts.
See Municipal Court Addresses (from the New Jersey Judiciary) for addresses of municipal courts.
A Special Note About Domestic Violence Cases
Because domestic violence emergencies often happen after regular Superior Court hours (which are usually 8:30 a.m. -4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday) or on weekends, a domestic violence victim may go to either the Superior Court or the local municipal court to apply for a temporary restraining order. (A domestic violence restraining order is a court order that prohibits an abusive husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, former/present household member or partner from contacting the victim.) When a victim goes to a municipal court for a TRO, the police will contact a Municipal Court judge and the judge will hear the victim’s domestic violence complaint, often over the telephone. After talking to the victim, the Municipal Court judge decides whether or not to give the victim a TRO.
If a victim of domestic violence chooses to apply for a TRO during regular court hours, he or she will probably be directed by the local police to go to the Superior Court. However, in order to make that restraining order a final restraining order (FRO), the victim of domestic violence (called the plaintiff) and the person being accused of domestic violence (called the defendant) must both appear at a full hearing, which must take place at the Superior Court within 10 days of the date that the temporary restraining order was issued. (More details about the Family Part of the Superior Court.)