Written by attorney Todd D. Palumbo

How to Appeal a New Jersey Municipal Court Conviction or Sentence

A conviction from Municipal Court is different than most appeals. First, it is appealed to the Law Division of the New Jersey Superior Court, not the Appellate Division. (This is different if a Superior Court Judge was the judge in the Municipal Court and in other, limited circumstances [1] see our Superior Court Appeals guide) On an appeal from a Municipal Court conviction, the Law Division retries the case, but instead of holding a new trial, it uses the record of the trial from the Municipal Court.

Time Limitations and What to File. You must start your appeal within 20 days of the entry of the judgment you are appealing by filing a notice of appeal with the municipal court where you were convicted, along with payment of the transcript fee, and a request for a transcript.

Within Five days of filing the Notice of Appeal, you must

  1. serve a copy on the prosecuting attorney and

  2. file a copy of the Notice of Appeal, with the filing fee and an affidavit that you filed on time with the trial court and served the prosecuting attorney, with the Criminal Division Manager’s office, along with the $75 filing fee for that court.

The deadlines must be met. The filing deadlines are the dates that the documents must be received and accepted by the court – not the date that you put them in the mail. If the deadlines are not met, your appeal will be rejected.

Serving the prosecutor is more complicated than that simple phrase suggests. The prosecuting attorney to be served depends on what and in some cases, why you are appealing.

· If you are appealing conviction of a municipal ordinance, serve the Municipal Attorney.

· If you are appealing conviction of a state law (which includes traffic violations) serve the county prosecutor.

· If you are appealing on the ground that a law, rule, regulation, or an Executive Order is unconstitutional, you must also serve the office of the Attorney General of the State.

The Municipal Court will have a packet of forms and instructions that are very helpful.

Fee Waiver. The fee is waived if you are indigent. If you were found to be indigent for the trial court, all that is required for the appellate court is the filing of the trial court’s order or a sworn statement that the trial court did so (and identifying the court and proceeding in which the order issued), and an affidavit that your financial circumstances have not changed significantly.

Appeals are procedurally complex and generally require the person making the appeal to convince the court that the court below made a serious legal error. The presentation on appeal relies on extensive written legal arguments known as briefs, and formal oral argument before the appeals court. To navigate the procedural issues and present your case effectively, you need legal counsel. And, because the deadlines are short and strictly enforced, you need to obtain legal counsel as quickly as you can.

Our appeals team has experienced lawyers who will provide that effective counsel for your appeal. Call us for a free consultation.

[1] In some very limited circumstances, , there can be a direct appeal from the Municipal Court to the Appellate Division, under Court Rule 2:2-3(b) - by leave granted, in extraordinary cases and in the interest of justice.

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