Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Dalziel

March 3, 2005

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
DANIEL J. DALZIEL, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On certification to the Superior Court, Appellate Division.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

(This syllabus is not part of the opinion of the Court. It has been prepared by the Office of the Clerk for the convenience of the reader. It has been neither reviewed nor approved by the Supreme Court. Please note that, in the interests of brevity, portions of any opinion may not have been summarized).

In this appeal, the Court revisits the aggravating and mitigating factors prescribed in the Code of Criminal Justice and assesses the propriety of their use under the particular facts presented.

On March 1, 2002, 19-year-old defendant, Daniel Dalziel and his co-defendant, Brad DeBlasi, committed a robbery during which they assaulted and injured Villem Vainjoe, a gas station attendant. The police questioned Dalziel and Deblasi on the day of the robbery and both denied participation. Later that day, however, on further questioning, both admitted to the robbery. Dalziel also admitted to assaulting Vainjoe. The two were indicted for first-degree armed robbery. Dalziel was also charged with second-degree aggravated assault, second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose (baseball bat), and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon. Dalziel agreed to plead guilty to first-degree robbery in exchange for truthful testimony against DeBlasi, in return for which the State agreed to dismiss all other charges, not to seek a sentence greater than the presumptive fifteen years with an 85% parole disqualifier and five years of parole supervision, and to allow Dalziel to argue for a lesser sentence. Thereafter, Dalziel pled guilty to the armed robbery charge.

On November 15, 2002, the trial judge sentenced Dalziel to a fifteen-year custodial term, subject to an 85% parole disqualifier and five years of parole supervision following release. In so doing, the judge found four aggravating factors: (1) the risk that Dalziel would commit another crime; (2) his prior criminal record and the seriousness of the current offense; (3) a need to deter; and (4) that Dalziel might view a lesser or minimum sentence merely as the "cost of doing business" (N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1(a)(11)). The judge found no mitigating factors and considering the preponderance of aggravating over mitigating factors and the seriousness of the assault during the robbery, stated that, but for the terms of the plea agreement, he would have imposed a sentence greater than fifteen years.

Dalziel filed a motion for a reduction or change in sentence pursuant to R. 3:21-10, which was denied. He then filed a notice of appeal. The Appellate Division affirmed the judgment after hearing on the Excessive Sentence Oral Argument calendar.

The Supreme Court granted Dalziel's petition for certification.

HELD: Because the trial judge did not apply the proper sentencing standards, which included a failure to consider mitigating factors grounded in the record, the matter is remanded for resentencing.

1. Trial judges are given wide discretion in sentencing, so long as the sentence imposed is within the statutory framework, and subject to certain limits. (pp. 7-8)

2. The function of an appellate court reviewing a sentence is to (a) determine if the legislative policies (here, the sentencing guidelines) were violated; (b) review the aggravating and mitigating factors found below to determine whether those factors were based on competent credible evidence in the record; and (c) determine whether, even though the court sentenced in accordance with the guidelines, nevertheless the application of the guidelines to the facts of the case make the sentence clearly unreasonable so as to shock the judicial conscience. (pp. 8-9)

3. Dalziel's uninterrupted history of criminality justified the finding of that aggravating factor and provided support for the trial judge's separate conclusions regarding the risk of reoffense and the need for deterrence. (pp. 9-10)

4. N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1(a)(11) (the "cost of doing business" aggravating factor), by its very terms, is inapplicable unless the judge is balancing a non-custodial term against a prison sentence. It may not be applied where a shorter prison term may be deemed "the cost of doing business" in order "to impress a defendant with the seriousness of his crime." To the extent that State v. Biancamano 284 N.J. Super. 654 (App. Div. 1995), certif. denied, 143 N.J. 516 (1996), and State v. Ascensio, 277 N.J. Super. 334 (App. Div. 1994), certif. denied, 140 N.J. 278 (1995), suggest otherwise, they are disapproved. (pp. 10-12)

5. A sentencing court does not have the discretion to reject altogether a mitigating factor that is supported by the record, and to the extent that State v. Sherman, 367 N.J. Super. 324 (App. Div.), certif. denied, The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Long

Argued November 9, 2004

This appeal provides us with an opportunity to revisit the aggravating and mitigating factors prescribed in our Code of Criminal Justice and to assess the propriety of their use under the particular facts presented.

I.

On March 1, 2002, 19-year-old defendant, Daniel Dalziel and his co-defendant Brad DeBlasi committed a robbery. DeBlasi was armed with a pellet gun, and Dalziel with an eighteen-inch wooden souvenir bat. The two concealed their faces with dark bandanas and went to the Larsen Shell Gas Station in Toms River. Villem Vainjoe, the station attendant, was watching television in the booth when Dalziel and DeBlasi arrived.

DeBlasi pointed the gun at Vainjoe and ordered him to hand over the money. Vainjoe, believing the gun was a toy, refused to comply, angering Dalziel. Dalziel then grabbed Vainjoe, put him in a headlock, and while asking for the money, hit the victim three times on the head and in the face with the bat. Ultimately, Vainjoe gave Dalziel $25 from his pocket and was released. Dalziel and DeBlasi took three packs of cigarettes and fled. The total value of the robbery proceeds was $39.

Vainjoe was treated for a head laceration and contusions to his head and face. The police questioned Dalziel and DeBlasi on the day of the robbery and both denied participation. On March 21, 2002, DeBlasi, while being questioned for a second time, admitted that he and Dalziel robbed the station. Later, Dalziel also admitted to the robbery and to assaulting Vainjoe.

Dalziel and DeBlasi were indicted for first-degree armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1. Dalziel was also charged with second-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(1), second-degree possession of a weapon (baseball bat) for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(d) and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon. N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(d). Dalziel agreed to plead guilty to first-degree robbery in exchange for truthful testimony against DeBlasi. In return, the State agreed to dismiss all other charges, not seek a sentence greater than the presumptive fifteen years with an 85% parole disqualifier and five years of parole supervision, and, to allow Dalziel to argue for a lesser sentence. Thereafter, Dalziel pled guilty to the armed robbery charge.

On November 15, 2002, the trial judge sentenced Dalziel to a custodial term of fifteen-years subject to an 85% parole disqualifier and five years of parole supervision following release. See N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. In so doing, the judge found four aggravating factors: (1) the risk that Dalziel would commit another crime, N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1(a)(3); (2) his prior criminal record and the seriousness of the current offense, N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1(a)(6); (3) a need to deter, N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1(a)(9); (4) and that Dalziel might view a lesser or minimum sentence merely as the "cost of doing business," N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1(a)(11). The judge found no mitigating factors and, considering the preponderance of aggravating over ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.