New Jersey Courts
This page contains an overview and introduction New Jersey Courts system.
What are the Different Levels of Courts in New Jersey?
Municipal Court is the lowest court in the State of New Jersey.
Defendants are not afforded trials by jury in the municipal court.
The Municipal Court Judge alone hears and decides a case.
A municipal Court Judge has authority to incarcerate a defendant for up to 6 months.
Municipal Court Judges also impose penalties that may be substantial such as loss of license and thousands of dollars in fines.
You are afforded all the Constitutional Rights that exist in any other Courts such as a right to an attorney, a right to notice of a hearing and a right to a trial.
Appeals from the Municipal Court are taken up to the Superior Court.
Superior Court is also known as the County Court.
Each Superior - County - Court is split into three Parts:
1. Criminal Court of the Superior Court where all indictable offenses are handled by the County Prosecutor and Superior Court Judge.
Defendants here are afforded jury trials.
2. Family Court of the Superior Court where all Matrimonial matters such as divorces are handled as well as juvenile delinquency cases.
3. Civil Court of the Superior Court is where individuals and companies may sue one another for money damages they may have sustained as a result of injuries due to accidents, breaches of contract, property damages, etc...
The Civil Court is further divided into three parts as follows:
a. Small Claims where plaintiff is seeking damages under $3,000.00.
This Court also hears Landlord Tenant matters.
b. Special Civil Part where plaintiff is seeking damages that exceed $3,000.00 but still less than $15,000.00;
c. Civil Part is where plaintiff is seeking damages that exceed $15,000.00.
In the New Jersey Courts system, appeals from the Superior Court are taken up to the Appellate Division, and appeals from the Appellate Division are taken up to the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
The Appellate Division hears all appeals from Superior Court Criminal Part, Family Part, Civil Part, Special Civil and Small Claims while the Supreme Court is the highest Court in the State of New Jersey.
New Jersey Courts have a program that certifies trial attorneys.
What is a Certified Trial Attorney?
Attorneys who are able to meet the standards set by the Supreme Court of ably demonstrating sufficient levels of experience, education, knowledge and skills in trial litigation.
There are two Trial Attorneys; Criminal and Civil.
The distinction lies in that Criminal Trial Attorneys represent clients who are facing long term incarceration while Civil Trial Attorneys represent clients who seek money damages for injuries or other wrongs inflicted upon them such as discrimination or libel.
Certified Trial Attorneys have accumulated substantial level of experience in trial law whether civil or criminal.
What are the legal standards in court?
There are two important legal standards, one is in Civil Court and the second is in Criminal Court.
The standard in Civil Court is "preponderance of the evidence."
In other words, the claimant bears the burden of proof of 60% that her claim is warranted and meritorious.
Even if a jury and Judge do not believe her 100% or even 70%, she may still win her case so it is a very low standard to meet.
In criminal Court the State bears a much higher burden of proof called "beyond reasonable doubt" that the crime has been committed.
This means that the government must demonstrate to the Jury or Judge almost 100% conclusively that the defendant is guilty of the offense he is being charged with committing.
Should you have any question that has not been answered here about New Jersey Courts, please do not hesitate to contact us.