Citizens in New Jersey have the right to file criminal and traffic complaints against other individuals for certain crimes and motor vehicle offenses. Common offenses such as harassment, simple assault, disorderly conduct and a variety of traffic tickets are filed each day in New Jersey courts. These complaints are often rooted in personal and romantic relationships, soured friendships, workplace interaction, neighbor disputes, road rage incidents and motor vehicle accidents. If you feel that you are the victim of a crime or traffic offense and want to file a citizen’s complaint, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Under State law, a private citizen can bring a case against another citizen claiming that the other person has violated some law. The person who starts the case is called the “complaining witness” or the “complainant.” The person being charged with the alleged offense is called the “defendant.”
- Complaints are made in the municipal court for the municipality in which the offense occurred. Courts typically process these complaints during regular business hours. For contact information, hours of operation, location and directions to a particular municipal court, please contact the Court or call our office.
- Please note that complaints involving an act of domestic violence can and should be reported to the local police department immediately.
- The Court staff is not permitted to offer substantive legal advice. If you have specific questions about the law or process, you should contact an experienced attorney for a consultation.
- The Court will likely ask you to complete a citizen’s complaint form. Be sure to have the name and address of the person you are charging. You must also set forth the charge you seek to bring against the defendant.
- After completing the necessary citizen’s complaint form, Court staff will ask you to review and sign the document. It is very important to keep in mind that when you sign the complaint you are in fact swearing that the information you have provided is true and accurate. If any portion of the documents is not accurate, do not sign it. Instead, bring the inaccuracy to the attention of Court personnel.
- The Court must then determine if there is “probable cause” for the issuance of the complaint. Probable cause is defined as “facts that would lead a person of reasonable caution to believe that an offense has been committed and that the person being accused committed the offense.”
- The Court staff will generally give you a copy of the complaint at the time you file it. The appearance date and time will be printed on the complaint. You must appear in Court on the date provided.
- You may bring witnesses or evidence into Court if you believe they would be helpful to proving your case.
It may be useful to fill out an Affidavit prior to going into Court. You can find many Affidavit forms online, including one at http://wpnj.us/docs/forms/Citizen%20Complaint.pdf.
Our law firm has represented complainants and defendants throughout New Jersey. If you have questions about filing a complaint against another individual, or if you have been charged with an offense, we can help. We will be pleased to offer a free consultation at a time that is convenient for you. Please call our office at 732-747-1844. You can also click below for an instant consultation.