People now can request their prosecutors to handle the legal matters without presenting their in-person as mentioned by officials.
The Online Dispute Resolution Program (ODR) of the judiciary initiated in the middle of May in almost 30 municipal courts has finally allowed court users to dispute a charge and provide the prosecutors with essential evidence or information online. According to Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, these changes intend to make the entire municipal court system more efficient and easily accessible. Court users no longer have to take a break from their essential works to discuss legal issues with prosecutors.
New Jersey citizens can utilize the ODR program to resolve issues related to 37 traffic offenses like speeding, not having insurance cards, failure to yield. Certain highlights of the ODR program are presented here for the convenience of residents:
- The defendants usually need to provide additional documentation and seek reduced charges before pleading guilty.
- Court users can now request for review to the municipal court prosecutor through NJMCDirect.
- After reviewing the case, the prosecutor can offer lesser charges or change charges.
- If the charge is accepted, a judge will look into the matter for approval. If the judge approves the request, the dependent does not have to visit the court.
- If the judge rejects the new charge or prosecutor declines to offer lesser charges, a hearing date is scheduled. The defendant needs to appear in the court to resolve his/her issues.
Additional courts are expected to provide an access to the program to defendants over the next few weeks. A significant second change has also been made for resolving the cases related to minor offenses. Under the second change that has been applied from 27th April, 400 minor offenses have been included in the Statewide Violation Bureau Schedule. The new offenses include:
- Some minor parking and traffic issues
- Fish, Games, Weights and Measures violations
The court has allowed that defendants can plead guilty and make online payment without visiting the court. The Judiciary has relaxed court rules related to pleading guilty by allowing court users to mail for certain offenses in municipal court. The relaxation by the Supreme Court on 16th march has intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19. For serious offense like driver’s license suspension, jail time, or community service, people cannot plea-by-mail.