Monday, August 8, 2011

Pleading to a Megan’s Law Offenses and Community-Supervision for Life Conditions.

Most defendants do not learn of the draconian conditions and requirements of the community-supervision for life (or life time parole) which are mandatory for all defendants convicted of a sexual offense in New Jersey, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.4.  Under community-supervision the defendant may be required to wear an ankle bracelet for 24/7 monitoring by the defendant's parole officer. It also includes, among other things, lifetime monthly meetings with the parole officer, prohibiting travel outside New Jersey, residency and employment restrictions, unannounced home visits and inspections, curfews and urine screenings for non-prescription drugs.  These are the basic restrictions and can be even more oppressive depending on the individual parole officer and his or hers individual predilections.

That is why it is extremely important that all defendants subject to community-supervision for life be advised by defense counsel exactly what “community-supervision” for life means. 

In fact in a recent case State v. Villanueva the appellate division remanded a PCR appeal back to the trial court to determine through an evidentiary hearing whether defense counsel was ineffective for not advising Mr. Villanueva of the community supervision for life requirements.

The appellate division citing State v. Jamgochian, 363 N.J. 220 (App. Div. 2003) which held that a prima facie case of ineffective assistance of counsel was made when defense counsel failed to advise the defendant of his travel restrictions for life.

Mr. Villanueva plead guilty to one third-degree count of child endangerment.  In that case Mr. Villanueva admitted that as the school basketball coach he required that his 12-14 year old players be weighed in the nude.  Mr. Villanueva’s defense was that he did not believe that his conduct was sexual in nature.  In that case Mr. Villanueva alleged in his post conviction relief petition that he did not understand the gravity of the lifetime supervision program until he was notified the 22 restrictive conditions by his parole officer. 

In conclusion every defendant charged with a sexual offense must understand that pleading to such offenses with a sentence to probation does not end the defendant’s nightmare, and that with such draconian conditions of life time community supervision for life, an innocent defendant must seriously consider going to trial, even with the threat of imprisonment hanging over his or her head.

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer 
Elizabeth, New Jersey 
Dated: August 8, 2011

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