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State of New Jersey v. Christopher Smith

April 20, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CHRISTOPHER SMITH, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cumberland County, Indictment Nos. 03-03-00191, 03-06-00544, 03-06-00545 and 03-06-00546.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted January 19, 2012

Before Judges Cuff and Lihotz.

Defendant Christopher Smith appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR), without benefit of an evidentiary hearing. On appeal he argues:

POINT I

THE COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN DENYING DEFENDANT-APPELLANT'S FIRST PETITION FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF.

A. TRIAL COUNSEL'S FAILURE TO MEET WITH DEFENDANT-PETITIONER PRIOR TO THE TRIAL DATE WAS INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL.

B. TRIAL COUNSEL'S FAILURE TO FILE PRE-TRIAL MOTIONS WAS INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL.

POINT II

THE COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE DEFENDANT-APPELLANT KNOWINGLY AND VOLUNTARILY ENTERED AN "OPEN PLEA" WITH AN UNDERSTANDING OF ITS PENAL CONSEQUENCES.

We have reviewed these arguments in light of the record and the applicable law. We affirm.

Defendant was charged with multiple offenses in several indictments. On March 2, 2004, he entered an open guilty plea to four third-degree crimes included in four indictments: attempted burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1 and N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2 (Indictment No. 03-03-00191); possession of a controlled dangerous substance (cocaine), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1) (Indictment No. 03-06-00544); burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2a(1) (Indictment No. 03-06-00545); and burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2a(1) (Indictment No. 03-06-00546). Based on defendant's past convictions, the State moved for imposition of a discretionary extended term sentence. Judge John M. Waters, Jr., granted the motion and applied the extended term to the burglary charge in Indictment No. 03-06-00545.

Defendant was given consecutive sentences for Indictments 03-06-00545 and 03-06-00546 for an aggregate term of fifteen years imprisonment, half of which was ...


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