Motion to Vacate Granted on PC 243(e)(1), Airport Court
According to the docket, at the time he entered his plea, he was admonished that “if you are not a citizen, you are hereby advised that conviction of the offense for which you have been charged will have the consequences of deportation, exclusion from admission to the United States, or denial of naturalization pursuant to the laws of the United States.” The admonishment omitted the mention of denial of amnesty.
According to the plea bargain, he was then ordered to serve 270 days in Los Angeles County Jail with credit for 134 days actual custody and 66 days good time / work time. He was also ordered to pay a $100 restitution fine to the court.
In late 2020, he became subject to deportation proceedings and retained an immigration attorney. The immigration attorney then explained a motion to vacate a conviction under Penal Code § 1473.7 and the subsequence revisions to 1473.7 by Assembly Bill 2837 effective January 1, 2019. The immigration attorney recommended that the client contact Greg Hill & Associates to discuss possibly filing such a motion to vacate of this conviction.
The client then contacted Greg Hill & Associates and explained the underlying conviction, but without too much detail, as his memory was a bit foggy from the passage of over twelve years since the incident at issue. Greg asked the client about his understanding of the immigration consequences of the conviction and the client explained that he did not thing there were any, as the conviction was for a misdemeanor and his jail time was under a year. His attorney told him not to worry anyways because the United States was not deporting anyone to Iran regardless because of the expectation that the person faced torture upon being returned to Iran.
The client explained that he now faced a return via deportation to Iran. He was quite sad about this, as he had been employed for the last seven years and nine months as the owner operator of a fleet of five refrigerated tractor and trailer units, distributing perishable foods between the coasts and the Midwest of the United States. His employment helped support himself and his family.
The client then retained Greg Hill & Associates, who then prepared a motion to vacate the conviction based on the above facts. The motion included a declaration from the client which stated that had the client known of the immigration consequences, he would not have accepted the plea bargain and instead would have instructed his counsel to further negotiate to avoid the immigration consequences, or simply gone to trial if that failed, as required by People v. Mejia (2019) 36 Cal.App.5th 859.
Greg then filed the motion at the Airport Courthouse and served the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.
Quite surprisingly, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office opposed the motion in a lengthy, emotional response.
At the hearing on motion, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office zealously argued against the motion to vacate. The judge was somewhat surprised by the emotional investment and indicated he would take the matter under submission and issue a written ruling that he would mail to the parties.
About two weeks after the hearing, he issued a written ruling granting the motion. The judge’s ruling, over six pages of reasoning, explained that what was fundamental in the right to enter a plea knowingly and intelligently is an understanding of the direct consequences of a conviction or plea. Here, there was a prejudicial error in entering the plea because our client did not believe the immigration admonition applied to him because of what his attorney told him. Moreover, in 2007, the client was a permanent resident, so he considered himself, as his declaration in support of the motion stated, “basically a U.S. citizen who cannot be deported.”