State v. Belton, No. M--143

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
Citation226 A.2d 425,48 N.J. 432
Docket NumberNo. M--143
Decision Date25 January 1967
PartiesThe STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. James BELTON, Defendant-Appellant.

Page 432

48 N.J. 432
226 A.2d 425
The STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
James BELTON, Defendant-Appellant.
No. M--143.
Supreme Court of New Jersey.
Argued Jan. 9, 1967.
Decided Jan. 25, 1967.

Page 436

[226 A.2d 427] Lawrence Weintraub, Englewood, for appellant.

Guy W. Calissi, Bergen County Pros., for respondent (Harold N. Springstead, Asst. Pros.).

The opinion of the court was delivered

PER CURIAM.

Defendant Belton moved for leave to appeal from an order denying his motion for acceptance of a plea of Non vult to an indictment for murder. The motion was argued orally upon our direction.

Defendant is charged with slaying a police officer during a hold-up. A murder of that kind is murder in the first degree, N.J.S. 2A:113--2, N.J.S.A., and carries the death penalty unless the jury recommends life imprisonment. N.J.S. 2A:113--4, N.J.S.A. Our statute, N.J.S. 2A:113--3, N.J.S.A. provides:

'In no case shall the plea of guilty be received upon any indictment for murder, and if, upon arraignment, such plea is offered, it shall be disregarded, and the plea of not guilty entered, and a jury, duly impaneled, shall try the case.

Page 437

Nothing herein contained shall prevent the accused from pleading non vult or nolo contendere to the indictment; the sentence to be imposed, if such plea be accepted, shall be either imprisonment for life or the same as that imposed upon a conviction of murder in the second degree.'

Our rule of Court, R.R. 3:5--2(a), permits only a plea of guilty or not guilty except with respect to an indictment for murder, as to which, in harmony with the statute just quoted, a plea of Non vult or Nolo contendere is recognized but may be refused by the court 'in its discretion.'

Thus the plea of Non vult remains only as to murder, and unlike the ordinary situation in which the acceptance of that plea had no bearing at all upon the severity of the punishment which might be imposed, here, under our statute, the acceptance of the plea prevents the imposition of the death sentence. Defendant's purpose in offering the plea is precisely to avoid a determination by a jury as to what punishment is merited by his alleged offense.

[226 A.2d 428] Defendant contends (1) the ruling upon an offer of the plea of Non vult involves the exercise of discretion, and (2) a defendant is entitled to be heard with respect to it. There can be no doubt upon either proposition. Rather the question is whether defendant was entitled to the type of hearing he sought, and we agree with the trial court that he was not.

Defendant's notice of motion was for leave to retract his plea of not guilty, for acceptance of a plea of Non vult, and 'To fix a date for a Hearing at which time the defendant, James Belton, intends to produce medical and lay testimony in connection with the request to this Court to accept his plea of non vult.' There was no statement of the facts which defendant intended to prove. Rather defendant conceived that he was entitled to a trial date at which time he...

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5 practice notes
  • State v. Funicello
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • January 17, 1972
    ...Non-vult plea to the trial court, and the court may accept or reject it. [286 A.2d 73] In two of the cases involved here, State v. Belton, 48 N.J. 432, 226 A.2d 425 (1967), and State v. Conklin, 54 N.J. 540, 258 A.2d 1 (1969), both of which resulted in death verdicts, the opinions of this C......
  • State v. Forcella, Nos. A--147
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • July 3, 1968
    ...be appropriate, and will refuse the plea if under the circumstances there should be a jury's determination of punishment. State v. Belton, 48 N.J. 432, 226 A.2d 425 (1967); State v. Sullivan, 43 N.J. 209, 246, 203 A.2d 177 (1964), certiorari denied, 382 U.S. 990, 86 S.Ct. 564, 15 L.Ed.2d 47......
  • State v. Conklin
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • October 27, 1969
    ...to refuse to accept the tendered change of plea. See State v. Forcella, 52 N.J. 263, 270--271, 245 A.2d 181 (1968); State v. Belton, 48 N.J. 432, 437, 226 A.2d 425 (1967); State v. Sullivan, 43 N.J. 209, 246, 203 A.2d 177 (1964), cert. den., 382 U.S. 990, 86 S.Ct. 564, 15 L.Ed.2d 477 (1966)......
  • State v. Belton
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • June 3, 1969
    ...defendants fled but were captured in short order. Before trial Belton sought to plead Non vult but his plea was rejected (State v. Belton, 48 N.J. 432, 226 A.2d 425 (1967)) and the matter came on for trial. During the trial Belton testified, acknowledging the robbery and the killing and aim......
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5 cases
  • State v. Funicello
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • January 17, 1972
    ...Non-vult plea to the trial court, and the court may accept or reject it. [286 A.2d 73] In two of the cases involved here, State v. Belton, 48 N.J. 432, 226 A.2d 425 (1967), and State v. Conklin, 54 N.J. 540, 258 A.2d 1 (1969), both of which resulted in death verdicts, the opinions of this C......
  • State v. Forcella, Nos. A--147
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • July 3, 1968
    ...be appropriate, and will refuse the plea if under the circumstances there should be a jury's determination of punishment. State v. Belton, 48 N.J. 432, 226 A.2d 425 (1967); State v. Sullivan, 43 N.J. 209, 246, 203 A.2d 177 (1964), certiorari denied, 382 U.S. 990, 86 S.Ct. 564, 15 L.Ed.2d 47......
  • State v. Conklin
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • October 27, 1969
    ...to refuse to accept the tendered change of plea. See State v. Forcella, 52 N.J. 263, 270--271, 245 A.2d 181 (1968); State v. Belton, 48 N.J. 432, 437, 226 A.2d 425 (1967); State v. Sullivan, 43 N.J. 209, 246, 203 A.2d 177 (1964), cert. den., 382 U.S. 990, 86 S.Ct. 564, 15 L.Ed.2d 477 (1966)......
  • State v. Belton
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • June 3, 1969
    ...defendants fled but were captured in short order. Before trial Belton sought to plead Non vult but his plea was rejected (State v. Belton, 48 N.J. 432, 226 A.2d 425 (1967)) and the matter came on for trial. During the trial Belton testified, acknowledging the robbery and the killing and aim......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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