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NJ Defendant Should Have Been Allowed to Withdraw Guilty Plea, Says App Div

03
Aug
2010

by in Criminal Defense

State v. Andre Lane, unpublished opinion, App. Div. Docket No. A-3738-08T4 (June 17, 2010) – Case remanded for reconsideration of defendant’s motion to withdraw his plea.

“Defendant argues that he ‘reluctantly’ entered a guilty plea only after receiving inaccurate and misleading advice from the judge and defense counsel concerning his maximum sentence exposure after conviction at a trial. Defendant was advised that if convicted of the first-degree offense and sentenced to a mandatory extended term, he would face a sentence between twenty years and life imprisonment. The court indicated that ‘if the life sentence were to be imposed and there would be a parole ineligibility period, I think it would have to be at least thirty-three-and-one-third.’ That advice was incorrect and the State agrees. The maximum period of parole ineligibility is twenty-five years. Defendant asserts that this miscalculation of the applicable period of parole ineligibility was the deciding factor in his accepting the State’s plea offer and, therefore, along with his protestation of innocence and counsel’s misadvice, his plea withdrawal should have been granted…. We express no opinion on this issue, but regard this as a reason why a remand is necessary to flush out whether the plea was voluntary, knowingly, and intelligently entered…. Because defendant brought his application to withdraw his guilty plea to the attention of the trial court before, albeit, on the brink of sentencing, the standard of the ‘interest of justice’ is applicable, rather than the ‘manifest injustice’ test.”

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