On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Indictment No. 04-02-393.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 15, 2011 -
Before Judges Payne and Hayden.
Defendant Jamil Mateen appeals the July 31, 2009 order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
The record reveals that on February 17, 2004, defendant waived indictment and was charged with one count of first-degree armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1. The incident leading to this charge occurred on December 14, 2003. Defendant threatened people in Neptune Township with a replica handgun and demanded that they give him money.
Immediately after waiving indictment, as the result of a plea agreement with the State addressing the accusation and two other pending indictments, defendant pled guilty to first-degree armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1, third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10, and third-degree conspiracy to commit theft, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 and N.J.S.A. 2C:20-2. In return for the guilty pleas, the State agreed to dismiss all remaining counts of the indictments and recommend an aggregate sentence of fourteen years imprisonment with an eighty-five percent period of parole ineligibility pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2.
At the plea hearing, Judge Anthony J. Mellaci, Jr., questioned defendant regarding the voluntariness of his plea. Defendant confirmed that no one was forcing or threatening him to waive the right to indictment, and that he did so of his own free will after conferring with his attorney. The judge then asked defendant whether he understood the plea.
The Court: Now, . . . Has [defense counsel] explained these charges to you?
Defendant: Yes, he explained them to me.
The Court: Do you understand them all?
Defendant: Yes, I understand the charges.
In response to the judge's further questions, defendant confirmed that he was literate, that he did not suffer from physical or mental illness, and that he was not currently under the influence of any substance that would impair his ability to understand the proceedings. The judge next asked about the signing of the plea form, and defendant confirmed that he went over it with his defense attorney and the attorney had answered all his questions. When the defendant asked the judge a question concerning the applicability of NERA to the charges, the judge directed defense counsel to confer with defendant outside the courtroom in a private setting to clarify the issue. When the two reentered the courtroom, Judge Mellaci again questioned defendant about his understanding and acceptance of the plea agreement; defendant agreed that he understood the agreement in its entirety and wanted to enter into it. Defendant also testified he was satisfied with the services of his attorney.
Defendant next appeared before Judge Mellaci on April 30, 2004. Pursuant to the negotiated plea, the trial judge sentenced defendant to a fourteen-year prison term with an eighty-five percent period of parole ineligibility pursuant to the NERA, and required him to pay the requisite ...