WHAT’S GOING ON WITH MY CRIMINAL COURT CASE DURING THE CORONAVIRUS?
Many of our clients have contacted Rosenberg | Perry & Associates asking about the status of their pending criminal court case. One of the more difficult aspects of being accused of a crime is the uncertainty in the process. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has only added to the uncertainty. For most people charged in a criminal matter, their case is heard in either Municipal Court or Superior Court. Municipal Court is where the vast majority of Motor Vehicle infractions (speeding tickets, DWI) and minor criminal offenses (disorderly person or misdemeanor) are decided. Superior Court is where more serious (felony) cases are decided.
While the status of court closings and procedures is changing frequently, here’s what we know right now:
Municipal Court – Placed on Hold
On March 14, 2020, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner that all in-person Municipal Court Proceedings are suspended until at least March 27, 2020, because of the recent outbreak of COVID-19.
What does this mean for your case?
Simply put, if currently charged with an offense that can be heard in Municipal Court, your matter will be put on hold until in-person proceedings are continued. Sadly, this means that thousands of individuals in the State of New Jersey will have to live with pending criminal or traffic matters for the foreseeable future. No action will be taken on these matters until the Courts reopen.
However, any consequences relating to these matters will not take effect until you have a chance to appear in Court. For example, a DUI may carry with it a period of license suspension. While waiting for the Court date to resolve the DUI ticket, you will still be able to drive and do not have to install an ignition interlock device.
If charged with a new offense during this court closure, the initial court date will be postponed until the courts reopen. Please contact your attorney or local municipal court if you have questions about any current charges or the date you are scheduled to appear. Although in person proceedings are suspended, the court and administrative staff is still working on-site.
When Will the Municipal Courts Reopen?
According to Chief Justice Rabner’s Order, the current suspension of in-person proceedings is scheduled to expire on March 27, 2020. However, most court officers expect that the Chief Justice will extend the suspension of in-person proceedings for at least another two (2) weeks. That said, a large number of our clients’ matters are being adjourned to court dates in May.
The attorney’s at Rosenberg│Perry & Associates are monitoring the status of upcoming court proceedings and suspensions. Please check back to our website or give us a call for updates.
Superior Court – Video and Telephone Only
According to the New Jersey Judiciary website, “[a]s of March 18, 2020 and until further notice, there are no in-person Superior Court and Tax Court proceedings (except for extremely limited emergent matters and certain ongoing trials). As many matters as possible (including case management conferences, motions, and hearings) will be handled by telephone or video conference.” While there is no formal Order or Directive posted on the Judiciary website, virtually all Superior Court Judges are making attempts to have proceedings either by telephone or video conferencing. Many Judges are permitting matters to resolve without a defendant physically appearing in Court. Every Judge is different, and it is important that your attorney maintain consistent communication with the Judge’s staff.
If you have questions regarding your Superior Court case in this difficult time, the Attorneys at Rosenberg | Perry & Associates can help guide you through this uncertain time. Please feel free to call or email.