On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County, Indictment No. 06-06-0763.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Lisa and Sapp-Peterson.
Defendant was arrested on April 12, 2005, by members of the New Jersey State Police Narcotics Unit, who conducted a motor vehicle stop of his vehicle after receiving information from a confidential informant that defendant would be returning to New Jersey from Miami, Florida "transporting a significant quantity of cocaine." A drug-sniffing dog brought to the scene alerted to the presence of narcotics in the vehicle. The officers obtained a search warrant and seized over five ounces of cocaine from the vehicle. On June 13, 2006, a Burlington County Grand Jury handed down Indictment No. 06-06-00763-I, charging defendant with first-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute (cocaine more than five ounces), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1) and (b)(1) (Count One), and third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1) (Count Two).
Defendant retained counsel to represent him shortly after his arrest. Nearly one year later, on February 13, 2007, defendant and his attorney appeared before the trial court and, as part of a negotiated plea agreement, pled guilty to first-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute. In exchange for the guilty plea, the State agreed to dismiss the remaining count and to recommend that defendant be sentenced one degree lower to an eight-year custodial term with a thirty-three-month period of parole ineligibility, along with appropriate fines and penalties.
The plea agreement was placed on the record and the court addressed defendant personally to ascertain his understanding of its terms, the voluntariness of the plea and defendant's understanding that by pleading guilty he was waiving his right to a trial by jury. Thereafter, through questioning from defense counsel, defendant placed a factual basis for the plea on the record. The court scheduled sentencing for March 30, 2007.
On February 28, 2007, defendant retained new counsel, who filed a motion to withdraw the guilty plea and to proceed to trial, which the court denied. The court also denied defendant's motion to stay the court's order. The present appeal followed.
On appeal, defendant raises the following points for our consideration:
THE DENIAL OF DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO WITHDRAW HIS GUILTY PLEA WAS AN ABUSE OF THE TRIAL COURT'S DISCRETION.
A. DEFENDANT'S PLEA WAS NEITHER KNOWING NOR VOLUNTARY.
B. DEFENDANT'S ATTORNEY SHOULD HAVE FILED VARIOUS ...