Post-Conviction Relief (PCR) Petition, Claimed Ineffective Counsel on The Issue of Jail Credits

State v. Huggins

Appellate Docket No.: A-4414-19

Decided February 11, 2022

Submitted by New Jersey New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark

In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Division of New Jersey reviewed a pro se post conviction relief (PCR) petition, claiming ineffective counsel on the issue of jail credits.

In State v. Huggins, On April 17, 2017, defendant pled guilty to third-degree possession of controlled dangerous substances (CDS) with intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1) and 2C:35-5(b)(3), under Indictment No. 16-06-1175, and to an amended count of disorderly persons offense of loitering for purposes of obtaining CDS, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2.1(b), under Indictment No. 16-06-1271. The State agreed to recommend a sentence of 364 days in jail on the first indictment, concurrent to a six-month sentence on the second indictment.

On November 3, defendant pled guilty to fourth-degree operating a motor vehicle while suspended for driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense, N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26(b), under Indictment No. 17-06-0982. In exchange for the plea, the State agreed to resolve all three of his indictments with an aggregate sentence of five years of special probation in drug court, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-14, conditioned on a mandatory 180-day jail term, N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26(c), with alternative sentence of a four-year prison term.

On December 4, defendant was sentenced in accordance with the November 3 plea agreement. He was awarded eight days jail credit on the motor vehicle offense and eighty-two days jail credit on the two CDS offenses.

After filing and withdrawing a notice of appeal concerning his sentence, defendant filed a pro se PCR petition Counsel was subsequently appointed to represent defendant and filed a brief. Defendant contended his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by: (1) failing to meet with him to prepare his defense; (2) leading him to believe he would be getting eighty-four days jail credit1 toward his 180-day mandatory jail term for his motor vehicle offense; and (3) failing to file a motion to vacate his guilty plea because of the jail credit miscalculation.

The Court denied the PCR petition without an evidentiary hearing, finding that the jail credit calculation was impossible because defendant could not get jail credits for any time served prior to being charged with an offense. What’s more, although defendant claimed his attorney failed to meet with him, defendant was asked at his plea whether he had enough time to ask his attorney questions and he answered yes. Defendant also could not prove that he was in any way prejudiced by the alleged ineffective representation. Defendant appealed the denial and the Appellate Division affirmed for the same reasons as the trial court.

If you or someone you know have been charged with any indictable offense or disorderly persons involving a search and/or questioning of police, or you have questions regarding jail credits, contact the experienced attorney at Hark & Hark to ensure you are adequately defended, otherwise you could have negative impacts on your case like the defendant above.

At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in Superior Court for criminal matters like the present case. We vigorously defend our clients by fighting to uphold their constitutional rights, and ensure law enforcement follow proper procedures to legally make an arrest.

We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing criminal charges similar to this circumstance, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, and Warren County and any town including Alloway, Elmer, Carneys Point, Elsinboro, Lower Alloways Creek, Mannington, Oldmans, Penns Grove, Pennsville, Pilesgrove, Pittsgrove, Quinton, City of Salem, Upper Pittsgrove, and Woodstown.

Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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