On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County, 96-9-758-I.
Before Judges Wefing, Cuff and Lisa.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lisa, J.A.D.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
By leave granted, the State appeals from an order permitting defendant to withdraw his guilty plea and vacating his conviction of endangering the welfare of a child, a third-degree crime, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4a. Because the endangering was by sexual conduct, defendant is subject to the provisions of Megan's Law, requiring registration as a sex offender, N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2, and imposition of community supervision for life.*fn1 N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.4. Defendant was granted leave to withdraw his plea because of his assertion that he did not fully understand the consequences of community supervision for life. The State argues that defendant should not have been permitted to withdraw his plea because it was knowing, intelligent and voluntary, because no manifest injustice has been shown, and because defendant did not show he was misinformed or that the sentence violated his reasonable expectations. We agree and reverse.
On July 22, 1997, defendant pled guilty to the endangering charge which is the subject of this appeal, and to unrelated motor vehicle theft and residential burglary charges under two separate accusations. At the time of his plea, defendant was twenty-three years old and represented by counsel. He had completed twelfth grade and could read and write. The endangering charge arose out of sexual improprieties with a fourteen-year-old girl. The indictment contained two additional counts arising out of the same incident: second-degree sexual assault by committing an act of sexual penetration (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2c(5))*fn2 and fourth-degree criminal sexual contact (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3b). Pursuant to a plea agreement, these two counts (as well as other unrelated property offenses) were dismissed at sentencing.
The plea agreement was effectuated by completion of the basic three page plea form and the two page standard supplemental form entitled "Additional Questions for Certain Sexual Offenses." At the plea hearing, defense counsel stated that "[w]e did go over the plea forms that are provided for certain sexual offenses under Megan's Law. I did indicate to him the offenses that are applicable." The judge then engaged in the following colloquy with defendant:
Q: I have before me the plea form, as well as the supplemental form concerning the Megan's Law, the sexual offenses. Is this your signature and initials?
Q: Before you signed or initialed these, did you read everything?
Q: Did you go over everything with your attorney?
Q: He explain everything ...