On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Passaic County, Accusation No. 08-02-0124.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 23, 2009
Before Judges Graves and J.N. Harris.
On February 4, 2008, when he was forty-nine years old, defendant Robert Isaiah pled guilty to third-degree possession of crack cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1). Defendant appeals from an order dated August 6, 2008, denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea prior to sentencing. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we affirm.
On November 12, 2007, defendant was charged with possession of crack cocaine and use of drug paraphernalia, a disorderly persons offense. During plea negotiations, the State agreed to dismiss the disorderly persons charge in return for defendant's guilty plea to the indictable offense. The State also agreed to recommend that defendant be sentenced to probation with up to 364 days in the Passaic County Jail. Pursuant to Rule 3:9-3(c), the prosecutor and defense counsel conferenced the matter with the court, and the judge conditionally agreed to accept the plea. In addition, the judge agreed to release defendant from custody upon the entry of the plea because the court anticipated sentencing defendant to the eighty-five days already served.
During the plea hearing on February 4, 2008, defendant testified he graduated high school in 1977 and attended William Paterson College from 1977 to 1981. He also testified that he voluntarily waived his right to indictment and trial by jury, and acknowledged that his attorney had "explicitly and thoroughly" explained the plea forms he signed. In addition, defendant confirmed he understood the questions on the plea forms and answered them truthfully. The following colloquy between defendant and his attorney then took place:
Q: Mr. Isaiah, you and I met at the Passaic County [J]ail and we reviewed the police reports that I have in connection with this case, is that correct?
Q: And speaking with me, it's my understanding that you have decided to plead guilty to those charges, is that correct?
Q: Are you going to be pleading guilty truthfully?
Q: Are you going to be pleading guilty freely and voluntarily?
Q: Do you understand that if the Court goes along with the recommendation made by the state, you will be placed on a period of probation anywhere from 2 to 5 years, and it would be up to the Judge to ...