Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Monmouth
Approved for Publication July 25, 2014.
Daniel J. Eastmond, for M.L. ( Manning, Caliendo & Thomson, attorneys).
Caitlin J. Sidley, Assistant Prosecutor, for the State of New Jersey ( Christopher J. Gramiccioni, Monmouth County Prosecutor, attorney).
[436 N.J.Super. 637] McGANN, J.S.C.
The sole issue confronting the court is whether the mandatory $500 fine under N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15(a) must be imposed in the case of a juvenile who receives a deferred disposition pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-43(b) (1).
The essential facts are not in dispute. M.L., along with several other juveniles,
was charged with possession or consumption of an alcoholic beverage by a person under legal age pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15(a), stemming from an incident occurring on January 30, 2013. The statute provides in pertinent part:
Any person under the legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages who knowingly possesses without legal authority or who knowingly consumes any alcoholic beverage in any school, public conveyance, public place, or place of public assembly, or motor vehicle, is guilty of a disorderly persons offense, and shall be fined not less than $500.00.
M.L., through her counsel, negotiated a plea agreement whereby she would receive a deferred disposition. Counsel argued that the $500 penalty should not be imposed in the event a deferred disposition was granted. The court allowed the juvenile to file a motion in limine for the court to determine this issue. The state did not oppose the motion.
In accordance with the agreement, M.L. on July 1, 2013, pleaded guilty to underage possession of alcohol under N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15(a). On that same date, this court directed that the juvenile be given a six-month deferred disposition pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-43(b) (1), which reads as follows:
[436 N.J.Super. 638] b. If a juvenile is adjudged delinquent, and except to the extent that an additional specific disposition is required pursuant to subsection e. or f. of this section, the court may order incarceration pursuant to section 25 of P.L. 1982, c.77 (c. 2A:4A-44) or any one or more of the following dispositions: Adjourn formal entry of disposition of the case for a period not to exceed 12 months for the purpose of determining whether the juvenile makes a satisfactory adjustment, and if during the period of continuance the juvenile makes such an adjustment, dismiss the complaint; provided that if the court adjourns formal entry of the disposition of delinquency for a violation of an offense defined in Chapter 35 or 36 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes the court shall assess the mandatory penalty set forth in N.J.S.A. 2C:35-15 but may waive imposition of the penalty set forth in N.J.S.A. 2C:35-16 . . .
For the reasons set forth below, this court agreed with the juvenile and withheld imposition of the $500 fine pending successful completion of the deferred disposition and subsequent dismissal of the complaint.
Initially, any question as to whether N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-43(b)(1) is a disposition was given repose in the case of State ex rel. V.M., 279 N.J.Super. 535, 536, 653 ...