Juvenile Seeks To Withdraw Manslaughter And Carjacking Pleas
- April 7, 2015
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Demitrius Minor, a juvenile offender, was charged with first-degree felony murder (N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a)(3)) and first-degree carjacking (N.J.S.A. 2C:15-2(a)(1)-(3))for crimes occurring on different dates and involving different victims in each circumstance. Although only sixteen (16) years of age at the time, Minor waived jurisdiction in the Chancery Division, Family Part and entered a guilty plea to first-degree aggravated manslaughter (N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4(a)(3)) and first-degree carjacking in the Law Division, Criminal Part. The plea agreement called for a thirty (30) year prison term for aggravated manslaughter and a concurrent ten (10) year term for the carjacking charge. Defendant was also subject to a parole disqualifier under the No Early Release Act (NERA) (N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2) with regard to the aggravated manslaughter charge. At sentencing, approximately three (3) months after giving a lengthy and detailed factual basis for the guilty plea previously entered, Minor sought to withdraw his plea of guilty based on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim but the trial judge refused to allow Minor to obtain substitute counsel and sentenced him according to the plea agreement as no formal motion had been filed. In State v Minor, the defendant appealed claiming that the trial judge committed reversible error. The NJ Appellate Division determined that an application for withdrawal of a guilty plea would require application of the factors set forth in State v. Slater, 198 N.J. 145 (2009) which could not reasonably be expected of a defendant without the assistance of counsel. It was apparent on its face to the Appellate Division that, under Hayes, 205 N.J. 522 (2011), it was reversible error to deny Minor’s request for an adjournment. It is long-established that denial of adjournment may lead to reversal when the defendant suffers “manifest wrong or injury” as a result of said denial. State v. Doro, 103 N.J.L. 88, 93 (E. & A. 1926). The court cited Hayes, supra, 205 N.J. at 541-42, with regard to the need to remand for the limited purpose of a plea withdrawal hearing wherein the defendant shall represented by independent counsel. If you are a juvenile charged with acts that if committed by an adult would constitute serious crimes, you need experienced criminal defense counsel to assist you immediately. An experienced criminal defense attorney can guide you through the court proceedings including whether your matter is best resolved in the Family Court or Law Division and what your options are in either event. For more information about murder, juvenile offenses or other serious crimes in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.