TRENTON, NJ— If you have an outstanding arrest warrant for a municipal court case issued before 2003, your case may have been dismissed.
The New Jersey Supreme Court today dismissed over 780,000 minor municipal court warrants that have gone unresolved for 15 years or more. One of the cases dismissed dates back to 1976.
The order comes after a report by a three-judge panle recommended the dismissal out of fairness and finding a more appropriate use of limited resources.
"Those old outstanding complaints and open warrants in minor matters raise questions of fairness, the appropriate use of limited public resources by law enforcement and the courts, the ability of the State to prosecute cases successfully in light of how long matters have been pending and the availability of witnesses, and administrative efficiency," wrote Chief Justice Stuart Rabner in the order.
Among those cases dismissed are minor motor vehicle offenses, penatly enforcement actions, violations of local ordinances and fish and game regulations. The order also recalled warrants for failure to appear, along with court-ordered driver’s license suspensions or revocations in cases that have been dismissed. License restoration fees or otherrequirements of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission would still be in effect.
More serious offenses, such as driving while intoxicated or diorderly and petty disorderly offenses, were not considered for dismissal.
Additionally, the order instructs a Supreme Court committee to examine whether the Judiciary should consider offenses more than 10 years old for dismissal and whether it should expand the types of matters eligible for dismissal. That committee also would be responsible for developing a process for periodically reviewing and dismissing old unresolved municipal court matters.
In March 2017, Chief Justice Rabner formed the Supreme Court Committee on Municipal Court Operations, Fines and Fees to review practices of the local courts and recommend ways to improve the integrity of their operations while preserving and strengthening judicial independence. It released its report in July. On the same day, the Supreme Court also adopted a series of rule changes that provide for limitations on monetary sanctions against defendants who fail to pay or fail to appear in municipal court.
To find out if a case has been dismissed, visit https://www.njcourts.gov/courts/mcs/dismissals.html.
The panel’s report is available at www.njcourts.gov.