Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Part 4)

by | Jan 10, 2019 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

The Appellate dissent continued:

The Court explained that a different standard of review applies “where the plea is supported by an adequate factual basis but the defendant later asserts his innocence.” Ibid. Under those circumstances, the Slater analysis applies and we review the trial court’s decision pursuant to an abuse of discretion standard. Ibid.

From the first, defendant has asserted he should be permitted to withdraw his guilty plea because it was not supported by an adequate factual basis. Therefore, our review must begin there and, in my view, our analysis ends there with the conclusion that defendant’s plea must be vacated. For these reasons, I respectfully dissent.

The footnotes from Judge Espinosa’s dissent read as follows: The 9-1-1 recording was not provided to us.

In his brief, defendant claims for the first time that during his initial allocution, he attempted to explain why his possession of the knife was lawful, but during the recess his counsel “convinced him he was guilty regardless of his explanation.” As this claim was not presented to the motion judge where it could have been “subjected to the rigors of an adversary hearing” and is unsupported by any record evidence, we do not consider it now. State v. Robinson, 200 N.J. 1, 18-19 (2009) (“The jurisdiction of appellate courts rightly is bounded by the proofs and objections critically explored on the record before the trial court by the parties themselves.”).

Building off of Judge Espinosa’s point, it would be illogical to limit the standard of review against the defendant in cases where s/he asserts her innocence. To do so would favor plea withdrawal in cases where defendants are implicitly conceding their guilt. If anything, those defendants should face a limited standard of review whereas defendants who assert a colorable claim of innocence should be given less of a legal hurdle to overcome.