The New Jersey Supreme Court continued in relevant part: We are satisfied that defendant entered a guilty plea under the terms of the negotiated plea agreement, knowingly and without any objection, to an offense for which the CDRA specifies a mandatory extended term and parole-ineligibility period, as required by Section 12. It is clear in most cases whether a defendant is extended-term eligible under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(f). In a small number of matters, that may be a disputed point. This dispute matters, because if N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(f) does not apply, the State may not avail itself of Section 12.
To provide greater clarity and an opportunity to resolve such disputes, we propose a slight revision to the procedures outlined in Rule 3:21-4(e): 1) If the prosecutor agrees not to file an application for an extended term as part of a plea agreement but intends to seek the benefit of Section 12 at sentencing, then the trial court shall ask the prosecution on the record whether defendant is extended-term eligible; 2) Defendant shall be given an opportunity to object; 3) If defendant does not object, the trial court’s inquiry ends there, and the prosecution may proceed under the plea agreement without being required to file a formal motion; 4) If, however, defendant objects, then the prosecution would have to meet its burden of proof by demonstrating defendant’s eligibility for an extended term; and 5) The trial court would then make a finding as to whether the prosecution has met its burden.
To implement the above modification, we refer this matter to the Criminal Practice Committee, to craft an amendment to Rule 3:21-4(e) for the Court’s consideration. We also ask the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts to revise the standard plea form to confirm whether the prosecution agrees not to request an extended term under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(f) but still seeks the benefit of a negotiated waiver of the CDRA’s mandatory sentence requirements under Section 12. In this case, we affirm the judgment of the Appellate Division upholding defendant’s sentence.
This was a unanimous decision by the Court. The required revision of the plea forms will lead to untold amounts of wasted paper when thousands of printed pages sitting in every Vicinage have to be discarded.