If you have been issued a traffic violation in the State of New Jersey that requires a court appearance, do you physically need to appear on the ticket considering the implications of the Covid pandemic?
The answer is “NO” if you follow the below instructions.
The New Jersey Municipal Courts allow for plea agreements to be entered by mail. The plea by mail must be undertaken in writing and must be done on Court approved forms or format. The specific forms that would allow a defendant to enter a plea agreement can be located on the Municipal Court’s website. Keep in mind that the plea by mail form must be filled out, signed, and remitted to the Municipal Court before your scheduled Hearing date.
Downgrading Traffic Offense
In certain circumstances you may want to downgrade your original ticket to a lesser included traffic offense in order to avoid or minimize motor vehicle and insurance points. On March 16, 2020, the New Jersey Supreme Court relaxed the “undue hardship” requirement pertaining to pleas by affidavit.
In the past, if a defendant sought to enter plea by mail the defendant would have to establish that it is an undue hardship to attend the scheduled court date.
Given the New Jersey Supreme Court’s March 16, 2020 order relaxing the undue hardship provision, defendants can seek to resolve his/her Municipal Court case by written, signed, and sworn plea. The written plea or affidavit must provide an adequate factual basis for the downgrade.
Exceptions to pleading guilty by Mail
There are exceptions to the plea by mail. For instance, if you have been charged with a serious offense that is to be heard in Municipal Court, your physical appearance may be mandatory. Serious offenses heard in Municipal Courts are, Driving under the Influence of Alcohol or a Narcotic, Criminal and/or a Domestic Violence violation. See Chart
|Traffic Cases R. 7:12-3
Guilty or Not Guilty Plea Acceptable
NOT ACCEPTABLE if involving:
|Non-Traffic Cases R. 7:6-3
Guilty Plea Only AcceptableNOT ACCEPTABLE if involving:
(Unless defendant is currently incarcerated, sentence would be concurrent and not
If you have been charged with a serious traffic offense, you need to speak to an experienced trial lawyer. The Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafajlo offers experienced legal advice to guide you through the process, and all consultations are free. Give us a call to discuss your case.