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State v. V.D.

July 23, 2008

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
V.D., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Somerset County, No. 06-04-00333-I.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wefing, P.J.A.D.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION

Argued May 21, 2008

Before Judges Wefing, Parker and Koblitz.

Defendant V.D. appeals from one provision of the judgment of conviction entered by the trial court. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we reverse.

On April 2, 2006, the North Plainfield police were doing a routine check of automobile licenses and stopped a car defendant was driving that belonged to a friend of hers; a check of the license plate revealed an outstanding bench warrant for the vehicle's owner.

The police requested identification from defendant. She gave her name but was unable to produce a driver's license. She was placed under arrest for driving without a license. N.J.S.A. 39:3-10. She also received motor vehicle summonses for driving without a seatbelt, N.J.S.A. 39:3-76.2f, and failure to exhibit a driver's license, N.J.S.A. 39:3-29.

At police headquarters, officers discovered in her purse a social security card and a resident alien card, both in the name of Nixie R. Rodriguez. Defendant admitted to the police that she was not Nixie R. Rodriguez and that she had purchased the documents for $2,000.

On April 27, 2006, defendant was indicted on two counts of the fourth-degree crime of possession of a false document, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1(d). Approximately six weeks later, defendant pled guilty to both counts of the indictment, as well as to driving without a license. In conjunction with that, defendant executed a plea form. In response to the direction to list any sentence the prosecutor had agreed to recommend was written the following: "Term of probation, no incarceration, 25 hours of community service." Defendant also acknowledged on the form that she understood that she could be deported as a result of her conviction.

When defendant appeared before the trial court to enter her guilty plea, the trial court queried her about her understanding of the possible penal consequences of her plea.

Q: This plea agreement is between you and the Prosecutor.

Do you understand that the Prosecutor is promising to make an argument with respect to your sentencing that calls for a term of probation, no incarceration, 25 hours of community service?

But I am not bound by the State's argument or by what your attorney argues. I could give you a stiffer--a harsher sentence.

Do you understand that?

A: Yes.

Q: If I chose to reject the plea agreement and to give you a harsher sentence I would first tell Mr. Schwartz. He would tell you and at that point you could withdraw ...


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