Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Paul Roccia v. Craig Conway

August 19, 2011

PAUL ROCCIA, PETITIONER,
v.
CRAIG CONWAY, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bumb, District Judge

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Petitioner Paul Roccia, a prisoner currently confined at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center at Avenel, New Jersey, has submitted a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The respondents are Warden Craig Conway and the Attorney General of New Jersey.

For the reasons stated herein, the Petition must be denied.

I. BACKGROUND*fn1

By Camden County Accusation 299-01-04, Petitioner was charged with one count of Aggravated Sexual Assault in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2a(1). Petitioner waived indictment. (Answer, Ex. Ra2.) Petitioner entered into a plea agreement in which he acknowledged, in a signed writing, among other things, that he understood the charges against him, that he committed the offense to which he was pleading guilty, that the statutory maximum term of imprisonment to which he was exposed was a life sentence, that the prosecutor would recommend a sentence of fifteen years imprisonment, that the prosecutor reserved the right to seek an extended term of confinement, that Petitioner would be sentenced pursuant to the No-Early-Release Act and would be subject to a period of parole ineligibility of twelve years and nine months, that Petitioner waived the right to appeal, that Petitioner was satisfied that the advice he had received from his lawyer, and that Petitioner had no questions concerning the plea. The plea agreement further specified that Petitioner would be sentenced as a sex offender, that he might be subject to confinement pursuant to civil commitment after he had served his criminal sentence, and that he would be subject to community supervision for life. (Amended Petition, Ex. Da7-Da8; Answer, Exs. Ra3, Ra4, Ra5.)

At the guilty-plea hearing, the trial judge confirmed with Petitioner that he understood that he was giving up certain rights in connection with the guilty plea, including the right of grand jury presentment. In pertinent part, the hearing proceeded as follows:

THE COURT: Now, you understand the nature of the charge. It's a very serious charge, first degree aggravated sexual assault, and the allegations contained in this one-count accusation allege on diverse dates between January 1st, 2002 and August 29th, 2003, in the Borough of Lindenwold, Camden County, and within the jurisdiction of this Court, you committed acts of sexual penetration on [the minor victim], when [the minor victim] was less than 13 years of age, and it's alleged that you specifically performed fellatio on [the minor victim] and received fellatio from [the minor victim].

Do you understand that charge?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.

THE COURT: Guilty or not guilty?

THE DEFENDANT: Guilty, sir.

THE COURT: Mr. Mitnick, you may inquire as to the factual.

MR. MITNICK: Paul, I would like to direct your attention from January 1st, 2002 until August 29th of 2003.

I'm going to lead you a little bit here to make it easier.

THE DEFENDANT: Okay

MR. MITNICK: Is it correct that during those dates, that the mother of [the minor victim] worked and you had -- you basically babysat him during those times, correct?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes.

MR. MITNICK: And during those dates, at times, is it true that for whatever reason, and we won't get into that now, that you, at a point, engaged yourself in behavior, specifically fellatio, on [the minor victim]? THE DEFENDANT: Yes.

MR. MITNICK: And is it also correct that during those dates, you had [the minor victim] engage in fellatio with you?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes.

MR. MITNICK: And is it also correct that during those dates, you had [the minor victim] engage in fellatio with you?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes. ...

THE COURT: All right. Now, Mr. Roccia, I understand from speaking with the prosecutor as well as defense attorney that this will not be your first conviction for this type of behavior.

Do you understand that? Is that correct?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes.

THE COURT: Now, I want you to also understand that had you gone to trial on this particular charge and been convicted, the likelihood is that you would have received the maximum sentence, which, in this instance, would be 20 years in New Jersey State Prison, 85 ---MR. MITNICK: Judge, if I may, it's a life sentence --MR. GILFERT: Persistent offender.

MR. MITNICK: -- 63-and-a-half years without parole.

THE COURT: I stand corrected. The understanding of both counsel is correct. Indeed, a life sentence or close to it because of your prior record.

Do you understand that?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes.

THE COURT: Instead, the State's offered you 15 years in New Jersey State Prison, 85 percent parole ineligible under the No Early Release Act.

Do you understand that?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes.

THE COURT: Essentially what that means is prior to the Parole Board even looking at you for parole consideration, you'll have to serve 12 years, nine months and three days in the New Jersey State Prison.

Do you understand that?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.

THE COURT: And upon your release, you'll also be subject to a five-year period of parole supervision.

Do you understand that?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.

THE COURT: Let me explain to you what that is, essentially.

When you reach your parole and if they grant you parole, you'll be released on this five-year supervision. For example, you'll spend one year out on parole, and if you violated the terms of your parole, you'll have to spend the balance of that five-year term, which, in this example, would be our years, incarcerated.

Do you understand that?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.

THE COURT: Do you also understand you'll be placed on Community Supervision for Life?

You signed a form which tells you what some of the requirements of Community Supervision for Life are, the limitations, and you'll be at least on Community Supervision for Life for 15 years, no less.

Do you understand that?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.

THE COURT: It's only after you serve 15 years that you could even see relief from that?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.

THE COURT: You'll also be subject to DNA testing.

You'll also be subject to Megan's Law classification and notification requirements, and as the forms say, there's a possibility of a civil commitment after you serve out your term, and that civil commitment, if there's an application for civil commitment, will be under the Violent Sex Predator Act.

Do you understand that?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.

THE COURT: There's always that risk as well. You should also understand that because you committed a crime of this nature, you're subject to payment of an $800 SANE penalty.

Do you understand what that is?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.

THE COURT: You have to pay a $50 VCB, a $75 Safe Streets, a $30 LEO, you promise not to appeal this conviction, and, in addition, the State's going to dismiss the two warrants that bring you here today out of Lindenwold.

All accurate?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.

MR. MITNICK: If I may, briefly, Paul, when the Judge says you're waiving your right to appeal this conviction, what he's ultimately saying, and I want to explain this again on the record to make sure you understand this, is you have every right to appeal this plea.

THE DEFENDANT: Uh-huh.

MR. MITNICK: However, if you chose to appeal this plea, the Prosecutor's Office then could say I'm taking the offer of 15 years back and I'm going to take you to trial, and if you're convicted, you get life.

So, by waiving your appeal, you're realistically not waiving it if you decided tomorrow morning I don't agree with this for whatever reason, but then Mr. Gilfert could take this back and say we're going to trial.

THE DEFENDANT: I understand.

MR. MITNICK: You understand that fully?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes.

THE COURT: When I get -- the last thing I usually ask you about is that particular aspect.

What you've basically done in this plea agreement, you've promised the State you're not going to exercise your right to file an appeal.

THE DEFENDANT: I understand.

THE COURT: If you break that promise, even after sentencing, the State can come back and say set aside the plea agreement, he broke the deal. If I grant the application, you go to trial on the original charge. If convicted, you ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.