In this case, the defendant’s criminal defense attorney allegedly failed to inform the defendant, who was underage at the time he committed a sex offense, that he would not be able to be removed from the Megan’s Law registry upon his 18th birthday. The defendant successfully argued on appeal that this materially influenced his decision to plead guilty.
State in the Matter of Registrant B.A., unpublished opinion, App. Div. Docket Nos. A-0109-08T1 and A-1997-08T1 (December 16, 2009) – Order denying motion to be relieved of Megan’s Law registration requirements affirmed, order denying motion to withdraw guilty plea reversed, case remanded for evidentiary hearing.
“The court, the defense attorney, and by silence, the assistant prosecutor, were unaware of the fact that B.A. was not eligible to apply for relief from Megan’s Law registration requirements when he turned eighteen unless he was under fourteen years of age at the time of the commission of the offense.
B.A. asserts that he relied upon this mistaken impression of what was required under Megan’s Law in seeking to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing that it materially influenced him to enter a guilty plea…. B.A. contends that he entered his guilty plea believing that he would be eligible to apply for relief from Megan’s Law registration requirements when he became eighteen years old.
This belief was fortified by the colloquy between the trial court and his then-counsel. The State made no objection or comment. As a consequence, he reasonably anticipated that he could petition for relief when he turned eighteen…. [T]he trial court did not even consider the mistaken impression conveyed to B.A. at the time he entered his plea…. On remand, the trial court will have to hold a hearing to explore the issue of the materiality of this misimpression to determine whether a plea withdrawal is appropriate. (Jane M. Personette)