In 1998, when 32 years old, our client was convicted in the Fullerton Superior Court of violating Penal Code § 273.5(a), also known as domestic violence, as a misdemeanor. Our client had emigrated from Romania to the United States six years earlier and was quite scared of serving any time in a jail in the United States.
He therefore readily pleaded guilty to violating Penal Code § 273.5(a) because he only had to serve 30 days in county jail and then serve thirty-six months on informal probation, with 52 batterer’s classes and about $750 in court fines. At the time, he was a permanent resident alien with a green card, so when the judge stated the immigration consequences admonition, our client believed it could not apply to him because he was a permanent resident. After all, if one is a permanent resident, one could not be deported (or else it would not be called permanent).
The client served his 30 days in county jail and finished his informal probation.
In 2004, he was told he could not renew his green card due to the domestic violence conviction, as well as an earlier conviction for misdemeanor obstructing or delaying arrest (Penal Code § 148(a)(1)) and giving false identification to a police officer (Penal Code § 148.9) from 1994, four years before his domestic violence case.
In 2021, the client called Greg Hill & Associates and spoke with Greg about filing a motion to vacate his 1998 domestic violence conviction out of the Fullerton Courthouse. Greg then asked the client a few questions about the case facts and what the client was told before he entered his plea to an offense that was a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT). The client explained that his public defender did not even know our client was not a U.S. citizen, despite his heavy Romanian accent. There was no discussion about being deported due to the conviction; the only discussion was about negotiating the plea bargain to avoid trial and keep the jail time to the minimum.
The client, now age 54, then explained his ties to the United States, which included being married here and having an established construction business for the last fifteen or so years, with many employees. The client also explained how he had lived in the same home for almost twenty years and went to a local church for over 25 years. He had no family living back in Romania, as both his parents had passed away.
The client then retained Greg Hill & Associates to prepare the motion to vacate a conviction under Penal Code § 1473.7, file it in the Fullerton Courthouse and serve the District Attorney’s office with it.
Greg Hill & Associates then did so, including photographs of the client’s family and letters of support from the client’s business associates, who described our client as honest, reliable and hard working.
The motion described how there was a prejudicial error in the conviction because at the time the guilty plea was entered into, our client was not aware of the significant adverse immigration consequences of such a plea for a crime involving moral turpitude. He was not aware that his permanent resident status meant he could still be subject to deportation and that his green card would be disqualified from renewal due to this conviction. The declaration attached to the motion stated that had our client known of such consequences of such a plea, he would have asked his defense counsel to seek an immigration-neutral plea instead or prepare for trial if such an immigration-neutral plea to another charge could not be negotiated.
The declaration also stated that the alleged victim of the domestic violence was our client’s wife, who he married shortly after the alleged domestic violence and that the two had been married for almost 23 years. She certainly had no objection to the conviction being vacated.
Greg Hill & Associates then filed the motion in the Fullerton Courthouse in early 2021. Due to Covid-19 social distancing safety concerns, the motion was assigned to a judge in the Santa Ana courthouse for a hearing. This judge granted the motion and the DA on the case announced that he would not be proceeding with the case, dismissing the case.
Our client was happy with this result.
For more information about motions to vacate under Penal Code § 1473.7, please click on the following articles: