The proverbial expression is of English origin, referring to a donkey rather than part of the human anatomy. Donkeys have a reputation for obstinacy and stupidity that has also given us the adjective “asinine”. In saying the law is an “ass,” it is essentially saying the law can be idiotic or nonsensical. In many respects, that can be true. Having said that, the perceived nonsensical nature can actually work in your favor.
The municipal courts in New Jersey are a perfect example. Virtually everything in municipal court can be plea bargained. The exceptions are driving under the influence and drug offenses, but even those can be adjusted if issues can be raised concerning charges. What the public needs to understand is being guilty does not necessarily matter and what you don’t know can hurt you. A simple example may be useful. You receive a speeding ticket in New Jersey for going 15 miles per hour over the limit. That is a 4-point ticket. If you plead not guilty and talk to the prosecutor, it is virtually certain you will receive a speed adjustment downward. In that circumstance, as little as 1 mile per hour reduces the ticket from 4 points to 2 points. You may actually be offered a no-point ticket. While the typical amendment comes with a $250.00 surcharge, depending upon your circumstances, it may be beneficial to proceed in that fashion. If you are a Pennsylvania driver, having the ticket adjusted down to 4 miles per hour over the speed limit would make a difference with the DOT.
If you have an accident and you are issued a violation associated with the accident, it may not make sense to obtain a no-point adjustment. There are two types of points: Motor Vehicle points and insurance points. For the most part, they are the same. Most often, people are concerned about points because it will raise their insurance rates. There are, however, circumstances in which the accumulation of points may result in a suspension of your driving privileges. If you have an accident that is arguably your fault, the insurance company is going to decide to raise your rates or not raise them based upon their own evaluation of the event. Whether you receive points in municipal court isn’t going to make a difference in that evaluation. That being the case, you may not want to pay the extra $250.00 surcharge to get no points and still have your insurance rates go up.
The municipal courts are very high volume. In order to handle that volume, resolutions are reached irrespective of guilt or innocence. What you don’t know can absolutely hurt you. If you do not at least speak to a lawyer knowledgeable about municipal court practice, you will never know whether very serious charges can be amended to less serious charges, which in turn will allow you to avoid suspensions or even jail. Don’t assume because you believe you are guilty that nothing can be done. That is hardly the case. While a favorable resolution cannot be achieved in every case, with a little effort, a large majority can be favorably adjusted with some effort. In some cases, you can achieve the favorable disposition and in other cases you will need a lawyer. The important thing is what you don’t know can hurt you!