Countless times a day, throughout municipal courts across New Jersey, a precious opportunity is wasted. Frequently when a defense attorney pleads a client guilty he/she does not ask to be heard on sentencing. Similarly, when the court enters a finding of guilt, judges infrequently explain their rationale for the sentence imposed. Regrettably, all too often the court rules are ignored and a once in a lifetime opportunity to advocate on behalf of a defendant will never return.

New Jersey Court Rule 7:9-1(a) provides, “before imposing sentence the court shall afford the defendant and defense counsel an opportunity to make a statement on defendant’s behalf and to present any information in mitigation of punishment.”