Downgraded Criminal Offenses: Remand to the Municipal Court

It is not uncommon in Essex County for criminal indictable charges to be remanded or downgraded to the municipal court for adjudication. Depending upon the nature of the offense, the facts alleged,victim involvement, etc., the screening assistant prosecutor may “send the case back down.”

In some matters, it is fairly easy decision for the prosecutor to make. Usually, however, the decision to remand will not be so cut and dry. It has been my experience that it is very beneficial to have early attorney involvement with any type of indictable offense, in order that your lawyer can start the negotiation process within days of the charge being issued. I am of the opinion that preemptive action not only gives the defendant a better chance at a downgrade, but also alerts the prosecutor that his/her adversary is taking an active role in the defense of the case. All of this is important, especially if it turns out the case will stay in the superior court.

In both Essex and Hudson Counties, there are usually preliminary court appearances scheduled within close proximity to the filing of the complaint. Central Judicial Processing, or CJP is a process whereby the dedfendant is “matriculated” into the system. If represented, counsel will have an opportunity within days of the event to pitch why the case is worthy of a downgrade. Once again, early involvement is key in my opinion.

As stated, not all “minor” indictable offenses are downgraded. The majority of indictable charges will be heard by the superior court. Nonetheless, it is frequently the case that a downgrade may be possible. To have the best chance at obtaining a remand, I feel it is smart to speak with and hire counsel.