Most criminal matters are resolved without having to go to trial and instead taking a guilty plea either to the original charge or to a reduced charge.  The NJ Supreme Court recently confirmed that it is essential that whatever charge the defendant pleads guilty to, he must actually be guilty of that crime.  As such, he must place on the record before the judge the specific factual basis for that plea.  

As the Supreme Court recently wrote in the 2018 case of State v Rainlin Vasco, “A defendant must admit that he engaged in the charged offense and provide a factual statement or acknowledge all of the facts that comprise the essential elements of the offense to which the defendant pleads guilty.”