On March 21, 2020, New Jersey’s governor signed an Order requiring everyone to stay at home in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to “flatten the curve.” This means that everyone must stay home and quarantine, unless they need essential services, medical attention, or are employed as essential workers for NJ.
This means everyone should stay home unless they require emergency medical attention for COVID-19 or other medical conditions, or essential retail services such as groceries or medical supplies. All medical service workers, first responders and law enforcement agencies are exempt from the governor’s order.
Police in New Jersey are still enforcing all local ordinances, traffic and state laws. Police officer enforcement of laws requires interaction with people who are suspected of breaking the law. Even though most criminal violations are mandatory, many traffic tickets are discretionary. This means that an officer can look the other way if you are driving with tinted windows or on your cell phone. However, if police see you break traffic laws, they can send you a ticket in the mail within 30 days of the violation without pulling you over. And don’t forget, some traffic violations always require mandatory tickets and arrest. The number 1 traffic offense in NJ that you can never get out of is Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). While municipal court proceedings are suspended for now, all court cases will be eventually scheduled, and you will have to appear in court if summoned.
Will You Need to Renew Your Driver’s License, Registration and Inspection in NJ?
The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission has issued an extension to renew all vehicle inspections, registrations, and NJ driver’s licenses automatically for 2 months. This means that any driver with a license that must be renewed in March, April or May, will be permitted to drive without getting a ticket for 2 months. Drive Safe!
Will You Be Arrested For Criminal Charges in NJ?
A crime is still a crime and you will be charged. However, the NJ Attorney General has urged that officers exercise discretion for criminal charges. This does not mean that you will not be charged. It means that people charged with certain non-violent offenses will be released on a summons, instead of being arrested, printed, processed and brought to jail. In order to stop the spread of COVID-19, people charged with crimes may be released pending a court date instead of overpopulating the county jail and increasing the chances to spread the virus. Only people charged with serious or violent charges will be detained in the jail. All emergent matters will still be scheduled, such as temporary and final restraining order hearings. It also means that instead of appearing in court immediately to answer a criminal complaint, some cases will be delayed and scheduled at a later date as long as they don’t impact the safety of the public.
Presently, all new jury trials are still suspended. Also, there are no in court appearances until further notice by the Chief Justice of the NJ Supreme Court. Courthouses remain closed to the public for now. All court appearances will be made via video or telephone for present time. This means that many criminal cases will be rescheduled.
If you have any questions about how the current COVID-19 pandemic affects your municipal or criminal matter in New Jersey, please contact Howard P. Lesnik, Esq. I am a New Jersey criminal trial attorney board certified by the NJ Supreme Court. Please contact me now by email, by phoning 908.264.7701, or by completing the form to the right to schedule your complimentary 30-minute strategy session.