In a published opinion, the Appellate Division determined the jurisdictional limits of the Municipal Court. In State v. Silva the defendant was charged driving while under the influence, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, and refusal to submit to a breath test, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4a. The facts of this case are relatively straightforward. Mr. Silva was observed by the police officer exiting a café in Woodbury Heights, New Jersey. The officer had initially noticed defendant's car because one of its headlights was out and its inspection sticker had expired. The police officer followed Mr. Silva for some time before he opened we made the traffic stop in West Deptford, New Jersey. The defendant was initially convicted in the Municipal Court. He then took a de novo appeal to the Superior Court where he raised, for the first time, the Municipal Court's jurisdiction to hear his case. The Superior Court affirmed the conviction and the appeal to the Appellate Division followed. On appeal Mr. Silva contended that pursuant to the statute the Woodbury Heights Municipal Court is a court of limited jurisdiction and only permitted to hear cases that occurred within the city limits of Woodbury Heights. To support his argument, the defendant cited N.J.S.A. 2B:12-17b, which provides, a municipal court may hear a case involving a violation of the motor vehicle or traffic laws “within the territorial jurisdiction of the court.” However, the Appellate Division rejected that argument and affirmed the conviction. At the Woodbury, Heights Municipal Court trial there was jurisdictional evidence presented by arresting officer and the defendant did not raise the jurisdictional issue at the Municipal Court trial. The Appellate Division held, In this case, the basis for territorial jurisdiction was asserted in the complaints, and the evidence adduced at trial supports the inference that the essential conduct — driving while under the influence and refusal — occurred within Woodbury Heights despite the fact that defendant continued driving into West Deptford where he was arrested and taken to the Woodbury Heights Police Station where he refused. Thus, he could be prosecuted for the continuing offense in Woodbury Heights. The appellate court went on to find, In this case, the evidence of jurisdiction and the facts subject to judicial notice were adequate to permit the municipal court judge to find that these violations occurred within his territorial jurisdiction even if they continued beyond it. This decision highlights the continuing jurisdiction for the arrest and prosecution of offenses that originated in one town but ultimately lead to a stop and arrest and another. If you or a loved one has been charged with DWI or any other crime and want to discuss jurisdictional defenses or any other defenses contact the DWI lawyers at DeMichele & DeMichele. You can call (856) 546-1350 to get a free confidential consultation with an experienced DWI defense attorney.
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