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State v. Bekhit

November 23, 2007

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
CHRISTINA BEKHIT, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, No. 00-04-147.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted September 26, 2007

Before Judges Wefing and R. B. Coleman.

The State appeals, pursuant to leave granted, from a trial court order granting defendant's petition for post-conviction relief ("PCR"). After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

When she was sixteen, defendant was charged as a juvenile with aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1); terroristic threats, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3; and possession of a knife with the purpose to use it unlawfully, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d. The State filed a motion to transfer the proceedings to the Superior Court, Law Division, to permit defendant to be prosecuted as an adult. On April 27, 2000, she appeared with her attorney before the trial court and voluntarily waived jurisdiction in the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part. The trial court and her attorney questioned her about her understanding of such a waiver. During the course of this colloquy, there was a reference to a plea agreement that had already been negotiated under which defendant would be sentenced to three years in prison for aggravated assault, subject to the provisions of the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, and the remaining charges would be dismissed. The Family Part judge signed the waiver order.

That same day, defendant and her attorney appeared in the Law Division for entry of her plea. During those proceedings, defendant's father attempted to interject himself. The following colloquy occurred:

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Judge, there seems to be a little disagreement between parent and child as to just what should happen, okay. I have explained this because this has gone on actually for about, since last July and this is probably about the 8th court appearance.

THE COURT: Sit down, sir. [DEFENSE COUNSEL]: I have explained to Mr. Bekhit who understandably as a father of a young woman is not thrilled about this whole thing, okay, because of what she faces.

THE COURT: Right. [DEFENSE COUNSEL]: But he has been to court each and every time and he has heard what Judge Daley has said, what the prosecutor has said, what I have said, and we have discussed the plea that was made about four, five months ago by the prosecutor to us. We have discussed it a number of times after the hearings and on the phone.

THE COURT: You have discussed this with Mr. Bekhit and with Ms. Bekhit, Christina Bekhit, on numerous occasions?

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Right, yeah, after hearings we discussed this and, like I said, there is no ...


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