New Part VII Court Rules effective September 1, 2004

The New Jersey Supreme Court has released the amendments and revisions to the Part VII Rules of Court. These changes and additions were adopted on July 28th and will become effective on September 1, 2004.

Among the important changes are the following:

7:2-1(d) – This Rule now authorizes municipal court judges to issue arrest warrants over the telephone upon the application of a law enforcement officer. The Rule sets forth the procedures to be used by both the judge and the police and requires the judge to make contemporaneous notes in certain instances.

7:2-2(a)(1) – The change to this Rule makes it clear that process on a citizen’s complaint may issue by a judicial officer based upon the contents of a certification.

7:2-2(a)(2) – A police officer may now personally serve a summons charging a disorderly or petty disorderly persons offense upon a defendant without effecting a custodial arrest. This change in the Rules of Court came about as a result of the Supreme Coourt’s decision in State v. Dangerfield, 171 N.J. 446 (2002). (See also Rule 7:3-1(c)).

7:2-4 – Service of summons by mail – This revised Rule establishes a new procedure for the service of a summons through the mail. Under the Rule, when a summons is served through the mail and the defendant does not respond, the Court is required to send a second notice by regular and certified mail. The Rule also permits the dismissal of complaints after 45 days when the Court has been given a bad mailing address for the defendant by either a civilian complainant or a municipal prosecutor.

7:2-6 – This new Rule authorizes the use of fax machines by law enforcement officers for the purpose of transmitting a proposed arrest warrant to a judicial officer.

7:3-1(c) – Once again, in light of the Court’s decision in State v. Dangerfield, supra, the Rules of Court now specify that a law enforcement officer may serve a defendant with a complaint/summons on the street and need not take the defendant into custody.

7:3-2(b) – Appointment of Counsel for indigents – This revised Rule indicates that the guidelines for the determination of consequences of magnitude are now set forth in the new second appendix to Part VII.

7:4-5 – Bail Forfeiture – The amendments to this Rule conform the procedures in Municipal Court to those required by recent Administrative Directives and to those used in the Criminal Part of the Law Division. The time for objecting to forfeiture by a surety is now 75 days from the date of notification of default of a term or condition of bail.

7:6-2(d)(5) – Plea Agreements- This revision to the Rule now mandates that the prosecutor personally appear in the courtroom and place on the record the terms and factual basis that supports the charges in a plea agreement on the record. The only exception for this procedure involves minor offenses that are contained on a violations schedule. (See revised Guideline 3 to plea bargaining procedures in Appendix 1)

7:8-5 – Dismissal of complaints – The amendment to the general dismissal Rule in Municipal Court now makes it clear that a dismissal under Rule 7:8-5 is final. A complaint that has been dismissed under this Rule may not be reopened except to correct a manifest injustice.

7:8-9(a)(2) – Bench warrants on parking tickets – This new Rule provides that a bench warrant based upon a failure to appear on a parking ticket may not issue unless the defendant has a least 2 or more open parking tickets within the municipal court’s jurisdiction.

7:11-1 through 7:11-5 -.All of the Rules controlling Civil Penalty Enforcement Action in Municipal Court have now been deleted.

7:12-3 – Plea by affidavit – The revision to this Rule eliminates the use of an affidavit and substitutes certifications in its place. The certification language from Rule 1:4-4(b) is also incorporated into the Rule. The change will make it easier for persons outside New Jersey to resolve their cases utilizing this Rule.

Appendix I to Rule VII – The Court has made two major changes to the Guidelines for controlling plea bargaining in Municipal Court. First, under the revised Guideline 3, a municipal prosecutor must appear in person in court to set forth every plea agreement except in those cases where the offense is listed on a violations schedule. In those cases, the prosecutor may use a form approved by the Administrative Director to communicate the plea agreement to the Court.

Drug Offenses – Guideline 4 now permits the judge to dismiss, as part of a plea agreement, drug offenses under Chapters 35 and 36 of Title 2C when a defendant has been charged with multiple drug offenses arising from the same incident. If the defendant pleads guilty to one offense, the plea agreement may allow that any remaining drug offenses arising from the same incident be dismissed. The same procedure may be used if the defendant seeks a conditional discharge on one of several drug offenses arising from the same incident.

Second Appendix to Rule VII – This new appendix set forth the definition of consequences of magnitude that entitle an indigent defendant to the appointment of counsel. They include any jail term, any license suspension and monetary sanctions in excess of $750. The Court may also appoint counsel when the defendant evidences mental disease or defect. This latter use of appointed counsel stems from the Appellate Division decision of State v. Ehrenberg.

Download a zip file of all of the Rule changes in Part. VII

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