Courts as a legal system are involved in the conviction of multiple yet variedly separate cases. Its functions are serving the public and society. The court system’s principal goal is achieving justice which means that the courts have to be open, impartial, and most importantly, independent.
Judicial independence is only achieved by permitting judges to make decisions they believe are right, fair, and just even if it means they’re unpopular.
Open proceedings are a boost to achieving this easily as it allows citizens to see that the system is fair, correct, and just. The state of New Jersey, like most states, allows court proceedings, including trials, to be open to citizens. Notwithstanding their race, status race, gender, religion, ethnicity, or physical inability, all people are treated equally by New Jersey courts.
You will find important information on the different criminal court systems. Some of the different types of courts in New Jersey include:
- The Supreme Court
- The Superior Court
- The Municipal Court
The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is the highest court and it reviews the decisions of the other lower courts. The court interprets laws that lead to its decision to either uphold or overturn the decision of the lower courts. Cases in this court are decided by a Chief Justice and six Associate Judges. As you will find out in this useful guide, the court’s primary purpose is to examine the proceedings and results of the lower courts’ cases. The court does not acknowledge juries, witnesses, or any new evidence.
The Superior Court
This is where trials are conducted. Each of the 21 counties in New Jersey has a Superior Court. Criminal, civil, and family law cases are tried in this court.
- Criminal cases are those where a defendant is accused of a grave crime like murder or drug possession, among others. The state has to prove the defendant committed the crime. The jury embodies the community where the crime occurred. The main purpose of the jury is to hear the evidence presented by the prosecution and the defense.
Not all criminal cases are decided by a trial. Many are settled by plea bargains. Plea bargains have the defendant pleading guilty to the crimes in exchange for a lighter sentence. However, the judge is not bound to honor the recommendation. Plea bargains can be initiated before or during the trial.
- Civil cases are those a victim claims injury by the defendant. Most civil cases have the plaintiff seeking damages or money as payment from the defendant. Civil jurors are usually Other civil cases may have a plaintiff filing lawsuits to demand their rights.
- Judges determine such cases, and the victim may request the court to order action from the defendant(s). The people in civil cases can agree to settlements without a trial allowing each side to resolve a dispute adequately instead of risking a loss at trial.
- Family cases deal with issues that affect the family. Such cases include divorce, adoption, juvenile delinquency, child abuse, child support, and internal violence. Due to their nature, judges are permitted to close some Family Court cases to the public.
The Superior Court includes the Appellant Division, the Tax Court, and Municipal Courts.
- Tax court judges review the county boards of taxation settlements that determine how much property should be taxed. They also check the State Division of Taxation’s decisions on state income tax, sales tax, and business tax. New Jersey has 12 Tax Court judges.
Appeals courts handle cases involving people who disagree with their cases in other courts. Their functions include;
- Reviewing decisions of lower courts
- Interpreting statutes or laws established by State Legislature
Appellate courts in New Jersey are the Appellant Division of Superior Court and the New Jersey Supreme Court.
The Appellant Division has cases reviewed and decided by a two- to – three panel of judges. No witnesses, jurors, or new evidence is considered here. Attorneys make legal arguments to the panel and appellate Division judges ask crucial and essential questions like whether the judge correctly describes the law to the jurors.
The Municipal Court
A majority of cases filed in states are heard in the Municipal Courts meaning the court handles a huge diversity of cases. Cases affecting motor-vehicle offenses are heard in the Municipal Court. Minor criminal offenses, including simple assault, trespassing, and shoplifting, defined in New Jersey as disorderly person offenses, are heard in Municipal Courts. Municipal Courts are operated by the city, township, or borough where the court is found. The state boasts 539 Municipal Courts.
There are many different types of criminal court systems. The purpose of the criminal court system is to ensure no crime or criminal goes unpunished. The system has different types of criminal courts to try different types of crimes. If you are charged with a crime, it’s prudent to consult a criminal lawyer.