On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Indictment No. 07-07-1271.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 26, 2009
Before Judges Baxter and Alvarez.
Defendant Douglas Artison appeals from his April 18, 2008 conviction, following a trial by jury, on the charge of fourth-degree failure to register as a sex offender, N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2. The judge sentenced defendant to an eighteen-month term of imprisonment and imposed appropriate fines and penalties. On appeal, defendant raises the following claims:
I. THE DEFENDANT WAS DENIED EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL AT THE TRIAL LEVEL
II. DEFENDANT'S SENTENCE IS EXCESSIVE
We reject defendant's contention that the sentence imposed was excessive. We decline to address the ineffective assistance of counsel claim that defendant asserts in Point I, and instead preserve it for post-conviction review in keeping with State v. Preciose, 129 N.J. 451, 460 (1992).
By virtue of a 2005 conviction for criminal sexual contact, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3(b), defendant was required to register as a sex offender and notify local police of any change of address. To satisfy that obligation, defendant registered with Detective Patrick Coffey of the Hackensack police department on July 18, 2006. Defendant listed his current address as an apartment on East Kansas Street. At the time, defendant completed a document in which he acknowledged his duty to not only register with police annually, but also to notify police of any intention to establish a new address ten days prior to any such relocation. Approximately five months later, on December 4, 2006, defendant signed a change of address document in which he listed his new address as an apartment on Prospect Avenue, in Hackensack.*fn1
In May 2007, an employee of an unspecified state law enforcement agency contacted Coffey concerning defendant's whereabouts. As a result of that conversation, Coffey attempted to locate Artison at the Prospect Avenue address, but was unable to do so. Coffey returned to the apartment on two or three occasions, leaving his business card each time. On one of those occasions, a female resident answered the door and allowed Coffey to enter the apartment. Coffey's visual inspection of the apartment revealed that none of defendant's personal belongings were inside. Concluding that defendant did not live at the Prospect Avenue apartment, Coffey charged defendant with failure to register as a sex offender.
On April 21, 2007, Lawrence Ryan, defendant's parole officer, sent correspondence to defendant at the Prospect Avenue address asking defendant to contact him. After Ryan's letter was returned to him as undeliverable, he conducted a home visit at the Prospect Avenue address. Upon arrival, Ryan was met by Debra Dunlap, defendant's former girlfriend, who told him that defendant no longer lived there. Like Coffey, Ryan observed that there was no sign of defendant at the residence.
At trial, defendant testified he was indeed living at the Prospect Avenue apartment, but was incarcerated in the Bergen County jail for five days beginning April 25, 2007. He further testified that upon his release from custody, he could not gain access to the apartment because Dunlap had been admitted to the hospital suffering from kidney problems. According to defendant, he attempted to contact Coffey ...