December 22, 2009
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
CHRISTOPHER MELVILLE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 05-01-0004.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 7, 2009
Before Judges Reisner and Chambers.
On May 6, 2005, defendant Christopher Melville pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 (count one); first-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (count four); third-degree receiving stolen property, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7 (count seven); and second-degree eluding, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2(b) (count seventeen). On July 21, 2005, he was sentenced on count four to ten years imprisonment with an eighty-five percent period of parole ineligibility and subject to five years of parole supervision upon release from incarceration pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. His sentences on the remaining counts were for lesser terms and ran concurrent to count four. The trial court imposed the applicable monetary penalties and assessments. The other counts of the indictment were dismissed.
Defendant appealed the sentence which was heard on our sentencing calendar pursuant to Rule 2:9-11. By order dated February 7, 2007, the sentence was affirmed. Defendant then filed a petition for post-conviction relief pursuant to Rule 3:22. The trial judge denied the petition without an evidentiary hearing, setting forth his reasons in a twenty-six page letter opinion dated May 12, 2008. The order denying the petition was entered on June 16, 2008.
On appeal, defendant raises the following issue:
DEFENDANT'S PETITION FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED BECAUSE HIS CLAIMS RAISED WERE OF A CONSTITUTIONAL NATURE AND HE DEMONSTRATED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL.
Specifically, defendant argues that the sentence violated State v. Natale, 184 N.J. 458 (2005). He also contends that the performance of defense counsel was deficient for failing to proffer mitigating factor one, namely that defendant's conduct did not cause serious harm, N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1(b)(1), and mitigating factor ten, namely that defendant was likely to respond affirmatively to probationary treatment, N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1(b)(10). Defendant further argues that he did not enter into the plea intelligently and voluntarily. He maintains that he was confused at the plea because he was taking medication, and, thus, he was having difficulty comprehending the proceeding.
After a careful review of the record, the arguments submitted by counsel, and the applicable law, we affirm for the reasons set forth in Judge Ravin's thorough written opinion.
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