Defendant Michael Gale was charged with shoplifting, a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11. He appeared before the Evesham Township Municipal Court on October 22, 1987, without counsel. The court advised him of the meaning of the charge and the following exchange took place:
Do you understand that charge, shoplifting? You have the right to remain silent. It's your right against self-incrimination. In the event that you waive or give up that right, what you say will be taken down and may be used by the State in the prosecution of its case against you. You have the right to be represented by an attorney, either an attorney of your own choosing, if you can afford one; if you cannot afford one, you may make application through this court for the services of an attorney. This is a disorderly persons offense. This court does retain jurisdiction. Are you in a position at this time to enter a plea of guilty or not-guilty to the charge without the presence of legal counsel?
Mr. Gale: I plead guilty to . . .
The Court: Is there anything you would like to say on your behalf, sir?
Mr. Gale: Well, not so much in my behalf, other than the fact that, at the present time, I needed the money. . . .
The Court: Have you ever been convicted of shoplifting before in the State of New Jersey?
The Court: It's a first offense?
The Court: Subject to verification through the NCIC, a plea of guilty having been entered, enter a finding of guilty. Due to the value and the intentional actions taken by the defendant, I sentence the defendant to 30 days in the Burlington County Jail, $250 fine, $25 costs, $30 violent crimes compensation penalty. You may remove the defendant.
Mr. Gale: Thirty days, sir?
Nothing further appears in the record of the October 22, 1987, hearing. Shortly thereafter the court received an abstract of the defendant's criminal record which showed that he had 29 prior convictions for shoplifting. The court therefore had the defendant reappear on November ...