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State v. Vigil

March 10, 2008

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JOSEPH VIGIL, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Indictment No. 02-11-2671-A.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued February 6, 2008

Before Judges Cuff and Lihotz.

Defendant appeals from an order denying his post-conviction relief (PCR) petition without benefit of a plenary hearing. Defendant asserts his attorney provided erroneous information regarding the deportation ramifications of his guilty plea, rendering counsel ineffective. Defendant's application to vacate his guilty plea and proceed to trial was denied. We affirm.

On April 18, 1996, pursuant to a plea agreement, defendant waived indictment and trial, and elected to proceed on an accusation, pleading guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3(b). The State agreed to recommend two-years probation on the condition that defendant serve a maximum custodial sentence of 364 days as a reverse split and dismiss the warrant charging defendant with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)(7). Defendant was sentenced in accordance with the terms of the plea agreement and was ordered to pay applicable fines and restitution. Defendant did not appeal and completed probation on February 13, 2005.

On appeal, defendant argues:

POINT I.

THE TRIAL COURT BELOW COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR (DEF. A-4 TO DEF. A-9) IN DECLINING TO VACATE THE DEFENDANT-APPELLANT'S GUILTY PLEA AS THE DEFENDANT-APPELLANT WAS EFFECTIVELY DENIED HIS CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED RIGHT TO COUNSEL, HAVING BEEN PROVIDED WITH MISINFORMATION AS TO THE CONSEQUENCES OF HIS GUILTY PLEA.

SECTION 1 - THE DEFENDANT WAS PROVIDED WITH ERRONEOUS INFORMATION REGARDING THE POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES OF PLEADING GUILTY.

SECTION 2 - THE ERRONEOUS INFORMATION PROVIDED TO THE DEFENDANT-APPELLANT FROM HIS COUNSEL DIRECTLY AFFECTED THE PLEA.

POINT II.

THE TRIAL COURT BELOW COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR (DEF. A-4 TO A-9) IN DECLINING TO HOLD AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING AS THE DEFENDANT-APPELLANT CONTENTIONS PRESENT A PRIMA FACIE CASE TO POST-CONVICTION RELIEF.

In reviewing a defendant's claim to be relieved of the consequence of a guilty plea, the trial court must consider the strong interests of the State, which includes the interests of the victim, in preserving finality. State v. Taylor, 80 N.J. 353, 362 (1979). "Moreover, where the plea was entered pursuant to a plea agreement, defendant's burden of 'presenting a plausible basis for his request to withdraw his plea is heavier.'" State v. Rodriquez, 179 N.J. Super. 129, ...


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