July 1, 2011
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
TARRANCE DWAYNE HUNT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 02-06-2462.
RECORD IMPOUNDED NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted June 23, 2011
Before Judges Fisher and Grall.
In this appeal of the denial of his petition for post- conviction relief (PCR), defendant argues he was not adequately informed about the imposition of community supervision for life at the time he pled guilty, on July 26, 2002, to third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4a. We reject defendant's arguments and affirm. At defendant's plea hearing, he testified that on or about March 10, 2002, he engaged in sexual conduct and conversation with S.R.N., who was then under the age of thirteen; defendant acknowledged that this conduct and conversation endangered the victim's welfare.
At the plea hearing, the State described the plea agreement as including the State's agreement to a three-year period of probation conditioned on, among other things: a 364-day period of incarceration; defendant's registration pursuant to Megan's Law, N.J.S.A. 2C:7-1 to -23; and community supervision for life. After defendant acknowledged that his attorney explained to him what community supervision for life meant, the judge quickly summarized that community supervision for life "in reality . . . it's not like parole or probation for life; what it means really is that there be continued notification and periodic contact." The judge then asked defendant if he understood that, and defendant said that he did. When defendant was sentenced, on December 12, 2003, the judge more fully described community supervision for life.
Defendant did not file a direct appeal.
On May 12, 2006, defendant was resentenced as a result of violating the terms of probation. The judge extended the term of probation for an additional year. Again, no direct appeal was filed.
On December 9, 2008, defendant moved to withdraw his guilty plea. He argued that his attorney failed to adequately advise him about the meaning of community supervision for life and that he was misled by the judge's description of community supervision for life at the time of his plea hearing. That motion was denied on March 16, 2009. Defendant did not appeal that order.
Defendant filed a PCR petition on August 17, 2009, which was denied on the merits for reasons set forth in the trial judge's written opinion. Defendant appealed the order denying his PCR petition, which was entered on December 18, 2009, presenting the following issues for our consideration:
I. THE POST-CONVICTION RELIEF COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT DEFENDANT FAILED TO DEMONSTRATE THAT HE WAS DENIED THE EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF TRIAL COUNSEL.
II. THE POST-CONVICTION RELIEF COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO GRANT DEFENDANT AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING ON THE ISSUE OF INEFFECTIVENESS OF TRIAL COUNSEL.
III. THE POST-CONVICTION RELIEF COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT DEFENDANT'S GROUNDS FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF WERE BARRED UNDER RULE 3:22-4 WAS IN ERROR.
A. Defendant's Ineffectiveness of
Counsel Claim Should Not be Barred Under R. 3:22-4 due to his Failure to Raise the Issue on Direct Appeal as the Requirements of Community Supervision for Life had not Been Made Known to Defendant at That Time.
B. Defendant's Ineffectiveness of
Counsel Claims Should not be Barred due to the Failure to Appeal Defendant's Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea as That Failure was due to Ineffectiveness of Counsel.
We find no merit in these arguments and affirm substantially for the reasons set forth in the PCR judge's written opinion of December 18, 2009.
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