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State v. Selzer

Decided: October 2, 1959.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
NATHAN SELZER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from Municipal Court.

The opinion of the court was delivered by Barger, J.c.c.

Barger

This is an appeal from the Municipal Court of the City of Plainfield. The defendant, after a summary trial, was convicted of a violation of N.J.S.A. 39:10-9, that is, selling a 1955 Cadillac motor vehicle in the City of Plainfield without a title. Defendant was sentenced to pay a fine in the sum of $500 and costs in the sum of $10. The defendant did not waive indictment or trial by jury in writing, R.R. 8:3-3(b). The appeal is on the transcript of the proceedings below.

There are two grounds advanced by the defendant for reversal:

(1) The municipal court was without jurisdiction to hear the complaint because the offense charged is a crime entitling him to indictment and trial by jury.

(2) The State did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt the essential element of knowingly or willfully violating the statute involved as required by N.J.S.A. 39:10-24(a).

N.J.S.A. 39:10-24, for violations of chapter 10 of Title 39, provides the following punishment:

"Shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000.00) or by imprisonment not exceeding two years, or both, at the court's discretion, and shall immediately return the title papers involved to the commissioner."

The general jurisdiction vested in municipal courts is granted by N.J.S. 2 A:8-21 and N.J.S. 2 A:8-22, and under N.J.S. 2 A:8-21(a) the municipal magistrate is given jurisdiction over "violations of the motor vehicle and traffic laws." It is the contention of the State that this violation comes within the jurisdiction vested in the court under this paragraph.

On the other hand it is the contention of the defendant that the offense charged being a misdemeanor constitutes a crime and he is entitled to indictment and trial by jury under the constitutional provisions set forth in Article I, paragraph 8 and Article I, paragraph 9, 1947 Constitution , and that the jurisdiction of the municipal court as to criminal offenses is granted and is limited by the following pertinent provisions of N.J.S. 2 A:8-22:

"Each municipal court, and the magistrate or magistrates thereof, shall also have jurisdiction of the following crimes or offenses occurring within the territorial jurisdiction of the court, where the person charged shall in writing waive indictment and trial by jury:

(h) Other criminal offenses where the penalty that may be imposed therefor does not exceed a fine of $1,000.00 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 1 year; provided, that where the magistrate is not an attorney at law the municipal court shall not have such jurisdiction to try and determine an indictable offense even though the person charged offers to waive in writing indictment and trial by jury. In such case, and in any case in which the municipal magistrate is not required by this section to try the same, the municipal magistrate may commit, or if the offense charged is bailable in law, admit the person charged to bail with sufficient surety to appear before such court as shall have jurisdiction in such case to hear and determine the crime or offense charged, but in any case in which any person so waiving indictment and trial by jury is charged with ...


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