The unanimous New Jersey Supreme Court continued in relevant part: Defendant’s plea was accepted, and jail credits were assessed per time accrued on each charge. Defendant argued that all of the 4727 days of jail credit should be applied to the aggravated assault charge even though he had accrued only 1012 days on that charge. On appeal, the Appellate Division held that, “while misrepresentations regarding jail credit may upend a plea, a review of the record in its entirety contradicts defendant’s claim.” The New Jersey Supreme Court granted certification. 235 N.J. 450 (2018).
The per curiam Court held that the defendant was repeatedly and explicitly warned that the estimated 2438 days of jail credit may not affect his period of parole ineligibility and that he should not enter the plea agreement expecting as much. Defendant cannot now credibly argue that he relied on a belief that all 2438 days would be applied to his term of parole ineligibility.
Incorrect calculation of jail credits may impact the voluntariness of a plea. Future courts should take note of the effective steps taken by the plea court here. It was made clear to defendant that the jail credits should not be presumed to apply to his parole ineligibility period. That notion was clearly stated no less than three times, to which the defendant affirmatively registered his understanding. The opinion of the Appellate Division is affirmed.
The fact patter paints a picture of a defendant who was difficult to deal with. His attorney may have been content to resolve the case with a plea and to let the Appellate Division and New Jersey Supreme Court deal with the issues through other attorneys. The defense on appeal likely pointed to the fact that the defendant was told that his jail credits “may” not affect his parole eligibility as opposed to being told unequivocally that they would not.