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Guide to Municipal Court: Union County NJ Edition

What is a Union County Municipal Court?

Before discussing the Union County Municipal Court system, it is important to understand New Jersey’s court system as a whole.  In New Jersey, the state court system is broken into different parts.  The New Jersey Supreme Court is the highest court in New Jersey.  The New Jersey Supreme Court generally handles appeals from a New Jersey Appellate Court.  New Jersey’s Appellate Courts are the second highest courts.  The Appellate Division usually handles appeals from a New Jersey Superior Court.  Every county in New Jersey has its own Superior Court.  Superior Courts handle a variety of matters.

The lowest court in New Jersey is the Municipal Court, sometimes referred to as traffic court.  Every town in Union County has its own Municipal Court.  Municipal Courts handle matters such as traffic tickets (including DUI), town ordinance violations and disorderly persons offenses.  Disorderly persons offenses are sometimes referred to as misdemeanors.

What Types of Criminal Offenses Are Handled in a Union County Municipal Court?

Disorderly persons offenses include:

  • Shoplifting
  • Simple Assault
  • Harassment
  • Marijuana Possession
  • Drug Paraphernalia
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Underage Drinking
  • Public Intoxication
  • Loitering
  • Destruction of Property
  • Resisting Arrest

Many municipal courts have court only once a week.  When people go to court, there is usually a full calendar.  Busier towns have court more than once a week.  There is no set rule for how many times a municipal court must meet.

Who Works in Municipal Courts?

In any court session, you will certainly see the municipal court judge.  Municipal Court judges are usually appointed by the town mayor, which is why the municipal court judge changes from time to time.  It does not mean that the municipal court judge is doing a bad job.  Most of the time, it has to do with politics.

Aside from the judge, you may see the town prosecutor.  Because of the heavy caseload, the prosecutor is usually in his or her office negotiating plea agreements with various defendants.  Occasionally, the judge will require an explanation from the prosecutor as to a particular plea agreement and then the prosecutor will appear.  The prosecutor will also be there for any trial.

Every town has one or more public defenders as well.  In Union County municipal courts, public defenders are available to those that are charged with a criminal offense or serious traffic infraction.  In addition, the defendant must qualify financially.  If you qualify for the public defender, the cost is $200. Like the prosecutor, public defenders usually have very heavy caseloads as well.

Usually, you will also see private criminal defense attorneys.  Unlike the public defender, the private criminal defense lawyer is usually there on behalf of one client.  His or her time and efforts are devoted completely towards one client.  Private attorney cases are usually handled first.

Aside from the lawyers, you will probably also notice:

  • Court administrators
  • Court clerks
  • Police officers
  •  Interpreters
  • Violation bureau clerks

How Does a Municipal Court Session Work?

It is really up to the judge to determine how he or she wants to handle the court session.  Generally speaking, first appearances are handled first because they take the least amount of time.  First appearances are for defendants to hear the charges against them and to enter an initial plea of guilty or not guilty.  You may hear on the cable news about a not guilty plea from a defendant that appears to be obviously guilty.  It is important to point out that this is an initial plea and a not guilty plea is often entered initially so that the defendant can obtain a lawyer.  Judges are very reluctant to put through a guilty plea without a lawyer present for the defendant.  After you enter your first appearance in municipal court, the court will schedule your case for either a trial or a conference.  Whether the matter is listed for trial or a conference usually depends on the nature of the charge.

After first appearances are out of the way, the judge will typically take plea agreements.  Plea agreements are relatively quick but usually take longer than first appearances.  Plea agreements are generally the result of a conference between the prosecutor and the criminal defense attorney.

Trials are always handled last.  They take the most amount of time.  Handling trials last allows the judge to get through everyone else’s case so that they are not waiting around for the trial to end just to enter a not guilty plea or put through a plea agreement.

I Got a Ticket, Where is the Municipal Court Located?

For the most part, the town in which you received the traffic ticket or summons is the town that will handle the court case.  Below is a complete list of Union County Municipal Courts.  Click on the court name to go directly to the municipal court’s website.

Berkeley Heights Municipal Court

360 Elkwood Avenue
New Providence, NJ 07974
Phone: (908) 665-1454/ (908) 743-1055
(In January 2018 the court office will be relocated and court sessions will be held in the City of Summit, located at 512 Springfield Avenue. This is due to renovations to the office and court room here in New Providence. The renovations are expected to last until May 2018.)

Clark Municipal Court

315 Westfield Avenue
Clark, NJ 07066
Phone: (732) 381-5395

Cranford Municipal Court

8 Springfield Avenue
Cranford, NJ 07016
Phone: (908) 709-7242

Elizabeth Municipal Court

One Police Plaza (between Commerce Place & East Grand Street)
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
Phone: (908) 558-6800

Fanwood Municipal Court

75 North Martine Ave,
Fanwood, NJ 07023
Phone: (908) 322-8236

Garwood Municipal Court

403 South Avenue
Garwood, NJ 07027
Phone: (908) 789-0780

Hillside Municipal Court

1409 Liberty Avenue
Hillside, NJ 07205
Phone: (973) 926-1881

Kenilworth Municipal Court

567 Boulevard
Kenilworth, NJ 07033
Phone: (908) 276-1104

Linden Municipal Court

301 North Wood Avenue
Linden, NJ 07036
Phone: (908) 474-8429

Mountainside Municipal Court

1385 U.S. Highway 22 East
Mountainside, NJ 07092
Phone: (908) 232-5335

New Providence Municipal Court

360 Elkwood Avenue
New Providence, NJ 07974
Phone: (908) 665-1454

Plainfield Municipal Court

325 Watchung Ave
Plainfield, NJ 07060
Phone: (908) 753-3064

Rahway Municipal Court

1 City Hall Plaza
Rahway, NJ 07065
Phone: (732) 827-2039

Roselle Municipal Court

210 Chestnut Street
Roselle, NJ 07203
Phone: (908) 245-5588

Roselle Park Municipal Court

110 East Westfield Avenue
Roselle Park, NJ 07204
Phone: (908) 241-4631

Scotch Plains Municipal Court

430 Park Avenue
Scotch Plains, NJ 07076
Phone: (908) 322-6700

Springfield Municipal Court

100 Mountain Avenue
Springfield, NJ 07081
Phone: (973) 912-2213

Summit Municipal Court

512 Springfield Avenue
Summit, NJ 07901
Phone: 908-273-6112

Union Municipal Court

981 Caldwell Avenue
Union, NJ 07083
Phone: (908) 851-5400

Westfield Municipal Court

425 East Broad Street
Westfield, NJ 07090
Phone: (908) 789-4060

Winfield Municipal Court

12 Gulfstream Avenue
Winfield, NJ 07036
Phone: (908) 925-3852

Can I Pay My Traffic Ticket Online?

Parking tickets and some traffic tickets can be paid online.  Some traffic tickets require a court appearance.  The ticket usually has a box checked off that will notify you as to whether or not a court appearance is required.

Pay Your Traffic Ticket Online Here

Union County NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer – (908) 358-2938

The Sloan Law Firm aggressively defends clients dealing with criminal charges and traffic infractions in every Union County municipal court and throughout New Jersey. If you have received a summons for a traffic ticket or a criminal offense and would like to speak with a Union County NJ Municipal Court Attorney, call (908) 358-2938.  The initial consultation is free.

The firm serves clients in: Berkeley Heights, Clark, Cranford, Garwood, Fanwood, Elizabeth, Hillside, Linden, Kenilworth, Mountainside, New Providence, Plainfield, Rahway, Roselle, Roselle Park, Springfield, Summit, Scotch Plains, Union, Westfield, Winfield and throughout Union County.

Thank you for reading.

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 by Katherine

I received a ticket for an illegal left. I left Court with no points on my license and a small fine thanks to Dan Sloan. Dan kept me informed the entire time and supported me even with this minor incident. I have recommended Dan to friends and family who have also had successful outcomes with Dan by their side.

 by Veronica

I received a moving violation, and was very nervous to go to court and face the penalties. Dan assured me not worry- his confidence and well-rounded knowledge of the law are why I walked out of the court very happy. I highly recommend Dan Sloan and will only call him for any other issue I should face.