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State v. Hamilton

June 29, 2010

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CHARLES HAMILTON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, Indictment No. 05-03-0037-S.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued May 10, 2010

Before Judges Reisner, Yannotti and Chambers.

Defendant Charles Hamilton was tried before a jury, and found guilty of first degree distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), specifically heroin, in a quantity of five ounces or more, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:2-6, as well as other offenses. Defendant challenges his conviction and the sentences imposed. We affirm.

I.

Defendant was charged in 05-03-0037-S with first degree conspiracy to engage in racketeering, N.J.S.A. 2C:41-2(d) and N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 (count one); first degree racketeering, N.J.S.A. 2C:41-2(c) (count two); first degree leader of a narcotics trafficking network, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-3 (count three); first degree distribution of a CDS, heroin, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:2-6 (count four); third degree distribution of a CDS, heroin, within 1000 feet of school property, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 and N.J.S.A. 2C:2-6 (count six); second degree possession of a CDS, heroin, with intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(2) and N.J.S.A. 2C:2-6 (counts eight and fourteen); third degree possession of a CDS, heroin, with intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(3) and N.J.S.A. 2C:2-6 (count nine); second degree possession of a weapon during the commission of certain crimes, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1(a), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 and N.J.S.A. 2C:2-6 (counts ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fifteen, sixteen and seventeen); fourth degree unlawful purchase of a handgun, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-10(a) and N.J.S.A. 2C:2-6 (counts twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four and twenty-five); second degree money laundering, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-25(a) (count twenty-seven); and first degree money laundering, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-25(b) (count twenty-eight).

Defendant was tried before a jury, which found him guilty of conspiracy to commit racketeering (count one), racketeering (count two), distribution of a CDS (count four), possession of a weapon during the commission of certain crimes (counts fifteen, sixteen and seventeen) and money laundering (count twenty-seven). The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on counts three, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen and fourteen. The court thereafter denied defendant's motion for a new trial.

The court granted the State's motion for imposition of an extended term pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(f) and sentenced defendant on count four to life imprisonment, with a twenty-five year period of parole ineligibility. The court merged count one with count two, and sentenced defendant on count two to fifteen years of incarceration, with a five-year period of parole ineligibility, to run consecutively to the sentence on count four. The court imposed concurrent, ten-year sentences on counts fifteen, sixteen and seventeen; and a concurrent five-year sentence on count twenty seven. The court entered a judgment of conviction dated February 21, 2008, and this appeal followed.

On appeal, defendant raises the following arguments for our consideration:

POINT I.

THE TRIAL COURT DEPRIVED MR. HAMILTON [OF] HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO COUNSEL BY UNREASONABLY DENYING HIM HIS RIGHT TO COUNSEL OF HIS CHOICE

POINT II.

THE TRIAL COURT IMPROPERLY INSTRUCTED THE JURY CONCERNING THE ELEMENTS OF POSSESSION OF A FIREARM WHILE COMMITTING CERTAIN DRUG CRIMES

POINT III.

THE TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN THE MANNER IN WHICH IT RESPONDED TO QUESTIONS FROM THE JURY DURING ITS DELIBERATIONS

A. The trial court, in response to a request for a readback of testimony, only provided the jury with a readback of direct testimony

B. The trial court failed to recite jury question on the record

C. The trial court erred in providing a written charge

POINT IV.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL WITH RESPECT TO COUNT 4 CHARGING MR. HAMILTON WITH DISTRIBUTION

POINT V.

THE VERDICT ON COUNT 4 SHOULD BE REVERSED AS THE JURY WAS CHARGED ON ACCOMPLICE LIABILITY ONLY ...


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