Trenton, NJ asked in Criminal Law and Traffic Tickets for New Jersey

Q: Must a Title 39 summons be issued when the stop leads to an arrest, or would a warning suffice?

Is a law enforcement officer required to issue a summons for the traffic violation which is the probable cause for a traffic stop if that traffic stop leads to an arrest of one of the occupants or would a written/verbal warning be permitted? (Specifically pertaining to non DWI cases and cases where the officer would generally have discretion in issuing the summons.)

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1 Lawyer Answer
Jeremy M Lackey
Jeremy M Lackey
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Cherry Hill, NJ
  • Licensed in New Jersey

A: This largely depends on the circumstances of the arrest of the occupant. For instance, was the occupant arrested for something related to the traffic stop OR arrested for another reason (independent arrest warrant, possession of contraband or drugs, etc.). A roadside stop under New Jersey law and Federal law constitutes a seizure and implicates Fourth Amendment rights. Generally, a motor vehicle stop must be based upon a reasonable and articulable suspicion that an offense has occurred. This includes even a minor traffic violation. Once a traffic stop has been initiated, an officer has the discretion to either write a ticket or issue a "warning" (either verbal or written). Moreover, an officer has thirty days after the traffic stop to serve that ticket. If an occupant was arrested during the stop, the arrest must be based upon probable cause. After the initial arrest, the suspect must be issued a Complaint in the form of a Summons or a Warrant stating the charges and the basis of the probable cause which then must be approved by a judge or magistrate.

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