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State v. O''Toole

Decided: September 28, 1978.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
LAWRENCE P. O'TOOLE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from the Monmouth County Court.

Lynch and Crane.

Per Curiam

Defendant appeals from a judgment of the Monmouth County Court which sentenced him to two terms of confinement in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution: a term of 12 days for possession of marijuana (N.J.S.A. 24:21-20(a)) and a term of 30 days for driving while on the revoked list (N.J.S.A. 39:3-40).

The sentences now on appeal were the culmination of complaints filed in the municipal court of Wall Township followed by several incidents which developed the framework of the issues before us.

In the municipal court defendant was convicted of possession of marijuana under 25 grams and was fined $250 and $25 costs. He was also convicted of driving while on the revoked list for which he was fined $750 plus $15 costs and his license was revoked. Both fines were stayed pending defendant's appeal to the County Court.

Defendant failed to appear at the hearing in the County Court and his appeal was dismissed on March 18, 1977. On

March 23, 1977 the municipal court sent defendant a notice to pay the fines and costs which had been imposed. He failed to respond and on April 29, 1977 he was again notified to pay the fines and costs and to appear in the municipal court on May 16. Again defendant failed to respond. Finally a bench warrant was issued and defendant was brought to court on May 24, 1977. The judge found that defendant had willfully refused to pay the fines and costs and revised the original sentences of fines and costs and resentenced defendant to the 90-day term on the marijuana charge and the 30-day term on the motor vehicle violation. Defendant then requested an extension of 24 hours to pay the fines and costs. He was given two days. He never returned or made any effort to pay any part of the fines or costs. He was apprehended by the police and taken to the Correctional Institution to serve his sentence.

Defendant appealed to the Monmouth County Court. The sentence of 30 days on the motor vehicle violation was affirmed, but the 90-day sentence on the marijuana charge was modified to 12 days' incarceration. This appeal followed.

On appeal defendant contends: (A) the municipal court erred in not allowing the defendant to pay the fine in installments; (B) the court below erred in incarcerating defendant since defendant was willing and able to pay the fines and costs.

A

Payment in Installments

Defendant contends that the municipal court judge wrongfully refused to allow him to pay the fines in installments and relies upon State v. DeBonis , 58 N.J. 182 (1971), in support of this proposition. In that case the Supreme Court was asked to decide whether a defendant who has been fined following a finding of guilt or plea on a charge must be afforded an opportunity to pay ...


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