Drug Offenses and Parole Ineligibility (Part 2)

by | Mar 12, 2022 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

The three-judge panel continued in relevant part: As to the latter, our courts have employed a discretionary standard of review to motions made under other subsections of Rule 3:21-10(b), which permit a court to change a sentence at any time for reasons other than on joint application of the prosecutor and the defendant. See, e.g.State v. Davis (1975) (applying abuse of discretion standard to trial judge’s decision on the defendant’s request for transfer to a substance abuse program pursuant to subsection (b)(1)); State v. Chavies (2021) (considering modification under subsection (b)(2) based on the defendant’s medical condition, stating, “As with sentencing, the scope of appellate review of a trial court’s decision to grant or deny a Rule 3:21-10(b)(2) motion is whether the trial court abused its discretion.” “A court abuses its discretion when its ‘decision is made without a rational explanation, inexplicably departed from established policies, or rested on an impermissible basis.'” State v. R.Y. (2020). We see no principled reason why a different standard of appellate review should apply to decisions made by trial courts on joint motions to change a sentence pursuant to the Rule.

We note, however, that our courts have routinely rejected motions for change of sentence if the defendant was still serving a mandatory period of parole ineligibility. See, e.g.Chavies (2021) (holding a defendant may not file the motion under (b)(2) while serving a mandatory, minimum sentence under the No Early Release Act); State v. Mendel (App. Div. 1986) (holding a defendant may not file the motion under (b)(1) during a mandatory period of parole ineligibility under the Graves Act).

If a Court is acting on joint motion of the defense and prosecution, it seems strange that there would be a dispute to appeal. However, there are rare situations in which the motion court holds that it is being jointly asked to do something that it dies not have the authority to do.