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State v. Roberts

Decided: September 24, 1986.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
GLENN ROBERTS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cumberland County.

Deighan and Scalera. The opinion of the court was delivered by Deighan, P.J.A.D.

Deighan

[212 NJSuper Page 478] Pursuant to a plea agreement, defendant Glenn Roberts was convicted for contempt in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9, a crime of the fourth degree, for purposely or knowingly disobeying a judicial order. He was sentenced to a term of one year probation on condition that he serve 69 days in the county jail with credit for time previously served.*fn1 Probation was also on condition that defendant make restitution to the County of Cumberland in the amount of $1,572.19, the cost of defendant's extradition from Wyoming. A $25 Violent Crimes Compensation Board penalty was also imposed. At the time of the plea

agreement defendant reserved his right to appeal from the denial of his motion to dismiss the indictment on the ground that the Superior Court, Law Division lacked jurisdiction over the defendant because, at the time of the offense, he was in fact a juvenile. The facts are not in dispute.

Defendant was indicted by the Cumberland County Grand Jury under Indictment No. 588-78 for breaking and entering in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:94-1 (count one) and larceny in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:119-2 (count two). Both violations were committed on August 31, 1978. He was also indicted under Indictment No. 864-79 for larceny committed on June 8, 1979 in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:119-2. On September 27, 1979 a bench warrant was issued for defendant for failure to appear before the Superior Court, Law Division on Indictment No. 864-79; on October 10, 1980 a bench warrant was also issued for defendant for failure to appear before the court on Indictment No. 588-78.

In 1979, when defendant was arrested and charged with breaking and entering and larceny under the two indictments he was charged as an adult because he lied to the police and said he was 18 years of age. The bench warrant lists defendant's date of birth as August 5, 1960, however, his actual date of birth, which was not established until a motion to dismiss in June 1983, is August 5, 1961. On September 27, 1979, when defendant failed to appear before the court to enter a plea to Indictment No. 864-79 he had left the State and had gone to Oregon allegedly to visit his sick father. However, instead of returning to New Jersey, defendant went to Wyoming where he was again arrested and convicted of breaking and entering and larceny. On April 15, 1983 defendant was extradited to New Jersey from Wyoming and on May 10, 1983 he was indicted under Indictment No. I-0238-5-83 for bail jumping on September 27, 1979 in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-7.

On June 13, 1983, defendant moved to dismiss Indictment Nos. 588-78 (breaking and entering and larceny) and I-0238-5-83 (bail jumping). He argued that he was a juvenile when the

offense charged in Indictment No. 588-78 was committed and therefore the court had no jurisdiction over him. He further argued that since he was improperly charged as an adult, Indictment No. I-0238-5-83 (bail jumping) must be dismissed because he had no obligation to appear before the Superior Court, Law Division for the underlying indictment. He thus contends there was no jurisdiction to charge him with bail jumping in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-7. The trial court dismissed Indictment No. 588-78 (breaking and entering and larceny) and transferred the matter to the Juvenile Division for prosecution but denied his motion to dismiss Indictment No. I-0238-5-83 for bail jumping. On July 7, 1983, Indictment No. 864-79 (larceny) was also dismissed and the matter transferred to the Juvenile Court.

On August 4, 1983, pursuant to the plea agreement, defendant retracted his not guilty plea and entered a guilty plea to Indictment No. I-0238-5-83 which was amended to charge him with contempt of court in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9. At sentencing defendant admitted he was aware that there were criminal charges outstanding against him; that he knew he was not permitted to leave the State without permission, and that he made no attempt to return to New Jersey nor did he inform the court of his whereabouts or make any attempt to ascertain the status of the charges against him.

On appeal defendant contends that since he was a juvenile at the time of the violation, his conviction for contempt must be reversed because the court had no jurisdiction over him on the underlying charge of breaking and entering and larceny. He contends that "a defendant may ignore a court order with impunity if the court issuing the order lacked jurisdiction" citing In re Tiene, 17 N.J. 170, 177 (1954) and cases from other jurisdictions. We disagree.

I.

The general rule is firmly established that a court does not possess the right or power to ...


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