On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Passaic County, Indictment No. 07-11-1467.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Carchman and Graves.
By leave granted, the State appeals from an order of the Law Division granting defendant Rohan Goulbourne's petition for Post-Conviction Relief (PCR) and permitting defendant to withdraw his plea of guilty. The thrust of defendant's claim on the PCR was that he was not properly advised as to the impact of his plea of guilty on his immigration status. The PCR judge concluded that based on the totality of the dialogue during defendant's plea voir dire, there was sufficient confusion to conclude that defendant was not fully advised that he would be deported if he entered a plea. We affirm.
The facts are simply stated. Defendant, a citizen of Jamaica who resides in the United States as a lawful permanent resident with a "green card," was charged with various drug offenses and after a negotiated plea agreement, he entered a plea of guilty to possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute within 1000 feet of a school, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a. Ultimately, he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three years with a minimum period of parole ineligibility of fifteen months. He did not file a direct appeal.
At the time of entry of the guilty plea, defendant, the plea judge and counsel engaged in a dialogue regarding his immigration status. First, defendant completed a plea form wherein he was advised that he "may be deported by virtue of [his] plea." (Emphasis added.) Thereafter, the judge noted:
Q. Okay. Now let me ask you this. Are you a citizen of the United States?
Q. You're not. Where were you born?
A. I was born in Kingston, Jamaica.
Q. Jamaica. How long have you been in the U.S.?
A. Been in the U.S. 11 years now.
Q. All right. I'm sure you understand that by reason of this conviction, you could be deported to Jamaica --
Q. -- to your country? You ...