On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, Indictment No. 02-06-1347.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted: April 30, 2008
Before Judges Cuff and Lisa.
On March 5, 2003, defendant entered a negotiated guilty plea to first degree aggravated sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2a. He is serving an eight-year term of imprisonment subject to a NERA*fn1 parole ineligibility term. He appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. We affirm.
At the time defendant entered his plea, he executed the applicable forms attendant to the plea. Defendant acknowledged that he was subject to confinement at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center (Avenel), if a psychological examination revealed that his conduct was characterized by a pattern of repetitive and compulsive behavior. Defendant also acknowledged that he was subject to involuntary commitment at the conclusion of his sentence "if the court finds, after a hearing, that you are a sexually violent predator in need of involuntary civil commitment."
Defendant acknowledged that he was subject to the registration, address verification, notification, community supervision for life and DNA testing requirements of Megan's Law, N.J.S.A. 2C:7-1 to -21; 2C:43-6.4. Defendant executed a supplemental plea form for cases governed by NERA. He acknowledged that he was pleading guilty to first degree aggravated sexual assault and would be "required to serve 85% of the sentence imposed for that offense before [he] will be eligible for parole on that offense[.]"
At the plea hearing, the assistant prosecutor reviewed the terms of the plea agreement. In the course of outlining the ramifications of the plea, the assistant prosecutor stated that defendant must serve eighty-five percent of the sentence and he could be committed for longer if he was subject to an involuntary commitment. Judge Donio asked defendant if his attorney had explained everything on the plea forms. Defendant responded affirmatively.
On July 18, 2003, defendant was sentenced in accordance with the plea agreement to an eight-year term subject to the NERA eighty-five percent parole ineligibility term. Furthermore, in accordance with the Avenel assessment, the judge provided that defendant would serve his term at Avenel.
Defendant filed a notice of appeal. The appeal was dismissed because counsel opined that the issues he sought to raise were best presented through a petition for post-conviction relief. In his petition, defendant asserted that he did not receive effective assistance of counsel because counsel failed to completely investigate the charges, coerced defendant to enter a guilty plea, failed to fully advise him of the provisions of the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to -27.38, and failed to provide proper advice regarding NERA. Counsel was assigned and submitted a brief which argued that the plea colloquy did not comport with the rule announced in State v. Bellamy, 178 N.J. 127 (2003).
In his oral opinion, Judge Donio held that defendant was adequately informed of the possibility of civil commitment at the conclusion of his penal sentence pursuant to the SVPA. The judge also noted that defendant was extended term eligible and received a very favorable sentence. He rejected the contention that defendant was uninformed of all of the consequences, direct and indirect, of his plea or that trial counsel was ineffective.
On appeal, defendant presents the ...