It appears that the New Jersey Supreme Court has issued a ruling that may help clean up much of the old legal matters logged in the record that have lingered for years, and especially involving suspended driving privilege cases. Also included are countless cases of failure to appear in court, which is effectively a contempt of court charge. This may not affect many New Jersey residents significantly, but it could also mean that defense attorneys have more leverage when dealing with prosecutors in some instances.
Impact on local courts
There are many municipal courts in the state of New Jersey that have backlogs of cases where people failed to appear in court for a wide variety of issues. Over 300,000 immediately in fact, with over 1.7 million municipal cases earmarked for possible removal. They include citations for parking violations, municipal ordinance violations, and minor lower court issues that are no longer relevant. The move is seen as an attempt to insert more fairness into the system regarding old issues that have no contemporary application.
The high court did not go so far as to allow removal of more serious legal matters such as old DUI cases that include failure to appear. While many drivers license suspension orders will be rescinded and old warrants recalled, prosecutors will be given the authority to contest removal of certain municipal court cases that have serious criminal intent as part of the record.
Anyone in New Jersey with an outstanding legal issue should contact the court of jurisdiction for the matter or consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help them potentially have the case dismissed and removed from the record. While some cases could not eligible, it is still possible that an agreement can be negotiated with the prosecutor.