On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Passaic County, Indictment Nos. 02-10-1360, 02-05-0703 and Accusation No. 03-10-1097A.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted January 20, 2011
Before Judges Lihotz and J. N. Harris.
Defendant appeals from the March 16, 2009 order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). Defendant asserted ineffective assistance of counsel and sought to vacate his guilty pleas to three counts of sexual assault. Judge Garry S. Rothstadt reviewed defendant's assertion that counsel failed to properly advise him of the scope of the collateral consequences of his guilty pleas, including possible civil commitment in the event he was found subject to the New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to -27.38, and ordered a plenary hearing. After considering testimony from defendant and former counsel, Judge Rothstadt denied the petition for PCR. Judge Rothstadt concluded defendant failed the show (1) he did not understand the terms of the plea agreement, which included a separate set of questions directed to guilty pleas to sexual offenses covered by the SVPA, or (2) counsel was deficient in neglecting to discuss the possible civil commitment consequences of his plea.
On appeal, defendant argues:
BECAUSE DEFENDANT WAS DENIED THE EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF TRIAL COUNSEL, HIS PETITION FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED.
DEFENDANT WAS DENIED THE EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF POST-CONVICTION COUNSEL.
These facts are not in dispute. Defendant's guilty pleas were entered pursuant to a plea agreement on October 29, 2003.
Defendant faced charges on two Passaic County indictments and a separate accusation, charging multiple offenses including second-degree sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault and weapons offenses.
The plea agreement provided defendant would plead guilty to second-degree sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(c)(1) and first-degree aggravated sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)(4) (counts one and two of Indictment No. 02-05-0703); second-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(1) (count one of Indictment No. 02-10-1360); and first-degree aggravated sexual assault (as charged in Accusation No. ...