On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, Municipal Appeal 23-2006.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Lisa and Lihotz.
Defendant Peter Cartwright appeals from a Law Division order, entered after de novo review, denying his motion for post-conviction relief (PCR). See R. 7:10-2(a). The record discloses defendant pled guilty in the Washington Township Municipal Court (WTMC) to driving while intoxicated (DWI) in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a) on December 10, 2002. Defendant was charged and convicted of a second DWI offense; the date of the offense is not stated. On April 26, 2006, following arrest for his third drunk driving offense, defendant filed a verified petition for PCR in the WTMC, seeking to withdraw the guilty plea entered on December 10, 2002. Defendant asserted he was not fully and properly advised of the penalties for future DWI convictions and his right to appeal. After denial, defendant appealed to the Law Division where de novo review again resulted in the denial of his PCR motion.
On appeal, defendant argues:
I. DEFENDANT SHOULD BE PERMITTED TO WITHDRAW HIS PLEA OF GUILTY TO N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL BECAUSE DEFENDANT NEITHER UNDERSTOOD THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE PLEA, NOR WAS ADVISED OF HIS RIGHTS TO APPEAL, RENDERING HIS PLEA UNKNOWING AND INVOLUNTARY.
A. DEFENDANT DID NOT UNDERSTAND THE CONSEQUENCES OF HIS PLEA MAKING IT UNKNOWING AND THEREFORE NOT VOLUNTARY.
B. DEFENDANT WAS NOT ADVISED OF HIS APPELLATE RIGHTS.
We reject these arguments and affirm. Our review necessitates we examine the facts surrounding defendant's December 10, 2002 guilty plea.
On October 7, 2002, a summons issued charging defendant with DWI and reckless driving, N.J.S.A. 39:4-96. Defendant first appeared in the WTMC on October 8, 2002. The transcript of that proceeding reflects the municipal court judge (MCJ) issued an opening statement concerning court procedures and the rights of defendants, as required by Rule 7:14-1(a). The statement included the following:
If you wish to take an appeal of a decision of this [c]court, you have 20 days within which to file. I suggest that you consult with an attorney, however, before you do so, because of the formalities involved in the appeals process.
Immediately following the opening statement, defendant's case was called. The MCJ addressed defendant and recited the charges and penalties for conviction of DWI. The MCJ specifically advised defendant of his right to counsel and the State's burden of proof. Defendant's "not guilty" plea was recorded and the matter was adjourned for two weeks to afford defendant the opportunity to obtain counsel. Although listed for ...