Complaint, Discovery, and 1st Appearance

All criminal and motor vehicle cases in the state of New Jersey begin with the filing a complaint. Now in motor vehicle matters, that complaint is the ticket that the police officer issues to you at the time of the stop. In all criminal cases, including municipal court cases and traffic tickets, the defendant is entitled to what’s called Discovery.
Discovery is basically a copy of everything that’s in the state’s file that can be used against the defendant at the time of trial. In all criminal cases, and in certain very serious municipal court cases, the defendant would be required to come in for what’s called a First Appearance.
A First Appearance is the opportunity for the defendant stand in front of the judge, and to have the judge formally read the charges against the defendant and accept the defendant’s plea of either guilty or not guilty. Most defendants in the first appearance plead not guilty.

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