The Guidelines for Operation of Plea Agreements in the Municipal Courts of New Jersey were created by the New Jersey Supreme Court for the purpose of establishing the responsibilities and limitations of municipal court prosecutors. Importantly, Guideline No. 4, entitled “Limitation,” provides as follows:
No plea agreements whatsoever will be allowed in drunken driving or certain drug
offenses. Those offenses are:
A. Driving while under the influence of liquor or drugs (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50) and
B. Possession of marijuana or hashish (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(4)), being under the
influence of a controlled dangerous substance or its analog (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10b), and
use, possession or intent to use or possess drug paraphernalia, etc. (N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2).
No plea agreements will be allowed in which a defendant charged for a violation
of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10% or higher seeks to plead
guilty and be sentenced under section a(1)(i) of that statute (blood alcohol concentration
of .08% or higher, but less than 0.10%).
If a defendant is charged with a second or subsequent offense of driving while
under the influence of liquor or drugs (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50) and refusal to provide a breath
sample (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.2) arising out of the same factual transaction, and the defendant
pleads guilty to the N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 offense, the judge, on recommendation of the
prosecutor, may dismiss the refusal charge. A refusal charge in connection with a first
offense N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 charge shall not be dismissed by a plea agreement, although a
plea to a concurrent sentence for such charges is permissible.
Except in cases involving an accident or those that occur when school properties
are being utilized, if a defendant is charged with driving while under the influence of
liquor or drugs (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a)) and a school zone or school crossing violation under
N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(g), arising out of the same factual transaction, and the defendant pleads
guilty to the N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a) offense, the judge, on the recommendation of the
prosecutor, may dismiss the N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(g) charge.
If a defendant is charged with more than one violation under Chapter 35 or 36 of
the Code of Criminal Justice arising from the same factual transaction and pleads guilty
to one charge or seeks a conditional discharge under N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1, all remaining
Chapter 35 or 36 charges arising from the same factual transaction may be dismissed by
the judge on the recommendation of the prosecutor.
Nothing contained in these limitations shall prohibit the judge from considering a
plea agreement as to the collateral charges arising out of the same factual transaction
connected with any of the above enumerated offenses in Sections A and B of this
The judge may, for certain other offenses subject to minimum mandatory
penalties, refuse to accept a plea agreement unless the prosecuting attorney represents
that the possibility of conviction is so remote that the interests of justice requires the
acceptance of a plea to a lesser offense.
If you are facing a DUI or criminal charge in NJ municipal court, you should consult an experienced municipal court lawyer who is familiar with the applicable plea bargaining guidelines and how they may affect your ability to obtain a satisfactory outcome in your case.