Violations Bureau Joanna Pagano   Phone: 973-770-1200 Opt 0

Assistant To Administrator Marjorie Jonas   Phone: 973-770-1200 Opt 0

Court Administrator Ana Torres   Phone: 973-770-1200 Opt 0

Deputy Court Administrator Shauna Tillotson   Phone: 973-770-1200 Opt 0


Municipal Court is a Shared Court between The Borough of Hopatcong
and The Borough of Stanhope.

Violations Bureau Open Daily From 9 AM to 4 PM.

Violations Bureau Also Opens 5:15 to 6:00 PM Prior to Court Night.

Court is Held in the Municipal Building on Most Monday Evenings and at Special Dates.

Monday Sessions Start at 6:00 PM Except for 4th Monday which is 1:30 PM.


Menu for this Page:

Introduction to Court
Types of Municipal Court Cases
Hopatcong Community Dispute Resolution Committee
If You Receive a Summons, Then
Your rights in the Municipal Courts in the state of New Jersey
Public Defender
Links to Off-Site Court Material
Traffic Violations
Criminal (disorderly and Petty Disorderly Persons Violations)
When is a Court Appearance Required ?
Failure to Appear
Plea of "Guilty"
Plea of "Not Guilty"
Defense by Affidavit: Out of State Residents
Seeking Postponement of Court Appearance
Methods of Payment
Municipal Prosecutor
Warrant / Bail
Courtroom Protocol

Introduction to the Court:

The Borough of Hopatcong Municipal Court and Violations Bureau are located in the Municipal Building at 111 River Styx Road in Hopatcong.
If you need additional assistance in reaching the Court, please call.

The Hopatcong Court is in session most Monday evenings, starting at 6:00 PM and also meets for special court dates.

The Municipal Court and Violation Bureau hours are weekdays from 9 AM. to 4 PM.

The Violations Bureau is open from 5:15 PM to 6:00 PM on those evenings when Court is held.

REQUESTS FOR ADJOURNMENT MUST BE MADE BY TELEPHONE TO THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR. THEY CANNOT BE MADE THROUGH E-MAIL OR THIS WEBSITE.

The Court is directly linked to the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles for direct entry of violation information and dispositions.


Types of Municpal Court Cases:

The Following Types of Cases Fall Within the Jurisdiction of the Hopatcong Municipal Court:

• Marine Violations
• Motor Vehicle/Traffic Violations
• Disorderly / Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses
• Parks and Forests and Fish and Game
• Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)
• Violations of Weights and Measures
• Violations of Hopatcong Municipal Ordinances

Charges of a more serious offense, "indictable", are sent to the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office in Newton. These cases are either brought before a Grand Jury in Superior Court or downgraded to the Hopatcong Municipal Court by the Sussex County Prosecutor.

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Hopatcong Community Dispute Resolution Committee

If you are considering filing a complaint involving a neighbor, or other private citizen, your complaint will be referred to the Hopatcong Community Dispute Resolution Committee, CDRC, to be heard.

For Information About CDRC, Use the Following Link.
Hopatcong Community Dispute Resolution Committee

If You Receive a Summons, Then ...

Some General Comments: Please take note that the court date mentioned on the summons is not
a trial date, but the date by which the complaint must be answered, either by payment or a personal appearance in court. Often traffic and parking offenses are payable by mail or at the Violation Bureau or in some cases through online ticket payment, as long as they do not have "court appearance required" marked on the summons. On the back of the summons you will find an "Appearance", Plea and Waiver" section. You may complete this section and make the payment in person or by mail. If you opt to do this, you are reminded that you are waiving your right to a trial and are pleading guilty. Should the amount to be paid is not on the back of the summons; please call the Violation Bureau to obtain the amount to be paid. Should you select to plead not guilty to a summons, then at least one week prior to the court date indicated on the summons, contact the Violations Bureau by telephone. All criminal matters must be heard before the judge in the Municipal Court and paid in court. If you choose, an attorney may represent you or you may represent yourself. Should you not be able to afford an attorney, you may seek the assistance of a Public Defender through the Court. The Court will provide an interpreter if one is needed. The Court cannot recommend attorneys but, if requested, will provide you with the telephone number of the Sussex County Legal Services that can assist you with a recommendation.

Your Rights in the Municipal Courts in the State of New Jersey

(1) You have the right to be informed of the charge against you.

(2) You have the right to remain silent concerning the charge against you. Anything you say
      can be used against you.


(3) You may plead guilty or not guilty to the charge against you. If you choose to plead not guilty,
       a trial will be scheduled. You must be prepared to proceed at that time.


(4) You have the right to a reasonable adjournment to speak to an attorney and / or
      to prepare a defense.


(5) You have the right to an attorney. You have the right to have an attorney appointed to assist you
      if the Court finds that:

      You are too poor to afford an attorney, and

      You are facing a sanction of magnitude, namely, a jail term, a suspension of your driving
      privileges or a substantial fine.


(6) You are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The State has the burden of proving you are
      guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Public Defender

If the potential penalty of a charge represents serious consequence and you want to be represented
by an attorney, but feel you cannot afford one, you may request representation by a public defender. Present to the judge an application for representation by a public defender. The judge will review the application following guidelines established by the State of New Jersey, and determine eligibility. Should your representation by a public defender be approved and a counsel be assigned, an application fee not to exceed $200 will be charged.


Links to Off-Site Court Material

NJ Courts Online is an Especially Informational Website.
Things to Think About Before You Represent Yourself in Court:
What the Court Can and Can Not Do for You, and Forms for Some Actions.

NJ Courts Online

New Jersey Driver Manual
For Information on the New Jersey Point System, Chapter 6, Traffic Laws: The Point System.
New Jersey Driver Manual

New Jersey Driver Manual
For Information on "Drinking, Drugs and Driving"in New Jersey, Chapter 7 of the New Jersey Driver Manual: Drinking, Drugs, and Driving.
New Jersey Driver Manual

NJ Courts Online - A Super Location
For General Information About Courts, the Law and Government, Written for Children in Various Age Groups Through High School.
NJ Courts Online - A Super Location

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Traffic Violations

Most traffic summonses can be paid without having to appear in court. On the back of the
summons you may find the cost of the violation. If it is not, contact the Violations Bureau. Pay particular attention to whether the summons indicates that a court appearance is required. Some violations, although they appear minor in nature, do require an appearance in court. Traffic violations of greater consequence (such as DWI or driving while suspended) always require a court appearance. At the initial court appearance (usually an informative appearance, often called an arraignment), the judge will advise you of your rights under the law and the possible penalties if a guilty finding is entered (through your plea or a trial). After being fully informed, you may enter a plea, that is, "guilty," "not guilty" or "guilty with an explanation." Should you select a plea of "guilty" or "guilty with an explanation", the judge will rule on the case and a penalty assessed. If you plead "not guilty", or want to consult an attorney, a date will be scheduled for a trial on the matter.


Criminal "Disorderly and Petty Disorderly Persons Violations"

Non-traffic violations, except certain ordinances, navigation, Fish and Game violations, require
an appearance in court. They are listed on the Court calendar and cover a broad range of offenses. The procedures are the same as indicated under the preceding sections, Traffic Violations. Indictable offenses cannot be disposed in Municipal Court until they have been first forwarded to the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office in Newton. These cases are either brought before a Grand Jury in Superior Court or downgraded to the Hopatcong Municipal Court by the Sussex County Prosecutor.


When is a Court Appearance Required ?

(1) Court Appearance is checked on the front of the Complaint and Summons.
     You must appear in court at the date and time indicated.

(2) You Want to Have a Trial.

(3) Nearly, All Non-Traffic Violations Require a Court Appearance.

(4) The Charge is Not Listed On the State or Local (Supplemental Violations Bureau).


Failure to Appear

ALL Summonses, - Traffic, Criminal or Ordinance Violations - must be answered by personal appearance in court or by payment. The court must take action should a person fail to respond by
the date shown on the summons. Should the violation charged require a personal appearance in court and the defendant fails to appear, the judge will order that a warrant for arrest be issued and a bail amount assessed. For charged violations that are payable, a "Failure to Appear" notice is sent to the defendant and an additional $10.00 penalty is assessed. In addition, if payment is not received by the date shown on the "Failure to Appear" notice, the defendant is warned that a warrant will be issued and driving privileges will be suspended in New Jersey and over forty other states.

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Plea of "Guilty"

Should you desire to plead guilty and give up your rights to have a lawyer and a trial,
you may do so, but do so only after serious consideration. If the charge is one that the Violations Bureau is authorized to dispose, and no court appearance is required, then complete in full the Appearance, Guilty Plea and Waiver on the back of the ticket. Mail or bring the Complaint and Summons, along with the required payment for the prescribed penalty, to the Violations
Bureau Prior to Your Scheduled Court Date. If you have questions about the procedure,
call the Violations Bureau.


Plea of "Not Guilty"

Should you choose to enter a plea of "not guilty" to the offense for which you are charged in
the Complaint and Summons and thereby have a trial, you must notify the Court Administrator
of your choice at least 7 days prior to your scheduled court date. Failure to notify the Court Administrator may make it necessary for you to have two court appearances. Involved persons, i.e., issuing officer/complaining witness, state witnesses, and defendant will be notified of
the hearing date by mail.


Defense by Affidavit: Out of State Residents

Defendants who reside out-of-the-state of New Jersey may request to defend themselves by affidavit (The Defense by Affidavit) for traffic and ordinance matters that do not carry penalties of great consequence. A telephone call to the court will be necessary to determine whether a defendant is able to dispose of the matter in this fashion.

Once a determination has been made that an affidavit is appropriate, the court will forward the necessary form to the defendant. The Defense by Affidavit is a simple form on which the defendant explains the circumstances surrounding the offense and returns the notarized document to the court prior to the scheduled trial date. A defendant who uses this approach waives his/her right to appear and confront all witnesses for the State. The judge will make his decision based on the information provided and the defendant will be advised by mail of the outcome of the case.

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Seeking Postponement of Court Appearance

(1) To request a postponement you must notify the Court at least one week before
      court appearance date.

(2) A postponement will not be granted the day of your court appearance.

(3) A postponement will not be granted if the ticket is three months old or older.


Methods of Payment

If you make a payment in person, fines may be paid by cash, money order, or personal check. Payment by mail may be made by money order or check, but not by cash. On the front of the money order or check in the memo portion, enter the number of the ticket. Installment payments can be arranged for fines assessed in court.

Online Traffic Ticket Payment - Certain "Payable Tickets" can be paid online.

To determine if your ticket can be paid online, go to -
NJMCdirect


Municipal Prosecutor

In the court proceedings usually, but not exclusively, the municipal prosecutor represents the State
on complaints issued by law enforcement officers. If you, or your attorney, want to speak with the Prosecutor, this may be done at the scheduled trial date, at which time all of the involved individuals are present. Trying to speak with the prosecutor at another time prior to the trial date might not produce resolution of the case, as all individuals involved could not be consulted.

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Warrant / Bail

If an individual being charged fails to answer a summons, or the individual presents a risk of
flight, a risk of harm or fails to comply with a court order (i.e. payment of fines or conditions that
are imposed as part of sentencing), warrants are often issued by the judge. A warrant is an order
to arrest an individual and bring the individual to court.

When the judge orders a warrant, the judge sets bail. Bail is established to assure an individual’s appearance in court until the final disposition of the case. Bail is deposited with the court to obtain
the temporary release of the individual. Bail may be posted in the form of cash, check or bond,
and may be posted by the individual or by a surety (another individual or a "bondsman" - corporate surety). The judge may allow "Release on his/her Own Recognizance", ROR, or a 10‰ bail option. Bail/bond is forfeited if the individual fails to appear and a new warrant is issued. At the conclusion of the case, its disposition, bail posted in the form of cash may be applied to penalties, but only with the authorization of the surety. If not authorized, it is returned to the surety.


Courtroom Protocol

(1) No Weapons are Permitted in the Courtroom or the Municipal Building.

(2) Please Remain Seated Quietly in the Courtroom.

(3) Proceedings are Taped and any Background Noise May Cause Interference on the Tapes.

(4) Talking or Moving About Unnecessarily May be Considered Disruptive.

(5) Please Avoid Bringing Small Children to Court. If You Must Bring Them, be Prepared to
      Wait Outside the Courtroom Until Your Case is Called.

(6) Wear Suitable Clothing to Court. Shirts and Shoes are Required. Hats are Not Permitted.

(7) Food, Drink, Gum Chewing, Books, Cameras, Radios, Cell Phones and Beepers
      Are Not Permitted in the Courtroom.

(8) Newspaper or Magazine Reading is Not Permitted When Court is in Session.

(9) Smoking is Prohibited by Law in All Government Buildings.

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Hopatcong Community Dispute Resolution Committee

What is a Community Dispute Resolution Committee ?

What Types of Cases Are Referred to a CDRC ?

How Does the CDRC Work ?

What If We Do Not Reach an Agreement ?

Who Makes Up the CDRC ?

What Are the Advantages of Community Dispute Resolution Committees ?


What is The Hopatcong Community Dispute Resolution Committee ?

The Hopatcong Community Dispute Resolution Committee (CDRC) is a branch of the Municipal Court. It provides the residents of Hopatcong a means in which minor disputes at the municipal level can be resolved without having to go to Court. The Committee utilizes the process of mediation as an alternative method of settling disputes without having to make a court appearance. Disputing parties appear before a team of trained mediators who work with the parties to develop a solution to the problem. The team members are local residents who volunteer their time to conduct hearings in an informal atmosphere during which complainants can be heard without the need for attorneys.

Mediation is a process that enables two disputing parties to come up with a solution to their
problem without having to go before the judge. The disputants are spared their possible embarrassment, expense and delay of a public trial. The disputants are given the opportunity
to keep their records clean.

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What Types of Cases Are Referred to a CDRC ?

The Types of Disputes That Could be Referred to a CDRC Include:

• Neighborhood Disputes

• Business / Consumer Complaints

• Simple Harassment

• Dog Complaints

• Noise Complaints

• Simple Trespass

• Bad Checks

• Landlord / Tenant Disputes


How Does the CDRC Work ?

Cases are referred to the CDRC by the Municipal Judge or Court Administrator. Parties are
notified by mail to appear before the Committee.

The rules of evidence do not apply as they do in court. Disputants may bring documents and information into mediation that might not be allowed in court.

During the mediation session, each party is given the opportunity to present his/her side of the case. After the parties have presented their case, the panel attempts to encourage discussion between the two parties and guide them towards a mutually agreeable solution. CDRC's are "solution-oriented" and are not preoccupied with deciding facts, guilt, or innocence. The disputing parties are encouraged to frame a resolution they can both live with, and in doing so, become more likely to honor it. Communication and open discussion are encouraged.

If an agreement is reached, it will be put in writing by the Committee and signed by both parties.

An appearance before the Committee is MANDATORY as the first step of the resolution process.
If a complainant does not appear at the scheduled time, the case will be dismissed and court costs may be assessed. If a defendant does not appear, a warrant may be issued for his/her arrest. If both parties wish to drop the complaint, they both must appear before the Committee to inform them.


What If We Do Not Reach an Agreement ?

If the parties fail to reach an agreement, the case is returned immediately to the court
for further proceedings.


Who Makes Up the CDRC ?

Citizens from the Borough volunteer to serve on the Committee. Committee members are
approved by the Assignment Judge of the Superior Court and are trained in mediation techniques. The Committee forms a mediation team that works with the disputing parties to formulate a mutually agreeable solution. The mediators do not take sides or make judgments about "right" and "wrong". Rather, they help disputing parties discuss their needs and differences, and find areas of agreement.


What Are the Advantages of Community Dispute Resolution Committees ?

• CDRC's provide a flexible and open forum that enables citizens to resolve minor problems
   without legal expenses and without the possibility of a conviction record.


• Each party is given the opportunity to tell his/her side of the story in an atmosphere that is
   less formal than a court proceeding.


• The mediation session is private and confidential. This helps preserve the goodwill
   and positive working relationships.


• In court before the judge the outcome is decided by the judge, and one person may win
   while the loses, whereas through CDRC both parties can win.


CDRC's Encourage Local Citizens to Become Involved in the Justice System Thereby Increasing Their Awareness and Support.

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