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Criminal Defense Attorneys

Norwalk, Vacate Plea to Grand Theft under P. C. § 1473.7

In 1984, our client, then ten years old, came to the United States with his parents from El Salvador.  

In 2001, he was arrested by the Downey Police for felony grand theft arising out of a theft of product at an auto parts store where he worked.  The case was later reduced to a misdemeanor under Penal Code § 17(b) and he sustained a misdemeanor conviction for violation of Penal Code § 487(a).  

In 2021, his permanent resident card had expired and he wanted to become a U.S. citizen.  He contacted an immigration attorney about the process and the immigration attorney reviewed our client’s criminal history.

He recommended that the client discuss vacating his conviction from 2001, but to do so, he would need to speak with a criminal defense attorney.

The client then called Greg Hill & Associates and spoke with Greg Hill about the facts of the case and his goals.  The client described how he had worked in the United States for the last eighteen years, generally in optometry positions.  He earned a high school diploma in 2004 from Lynwood High School.  He currently lived in Downey with his wife and children.

Greg went to the courthouse and obtained a docket report on the case, which stated the judge admonished him, at the time he entered his plea, that “if you are not a citizen, you are hereby advised that conviction of the offense for which you have been charged may have the consequences of deportation, exclusion from admission to the United States, or denial of naturalization pursuant to the laws of the United States.”  

Greg noted that the warning stated on the docket was defective insofar as it did not warn that the plea could result in denial of amnesty as such a warning usually includes.  
    
The client was then placed on three years of informal probation, sentenced to serve 120 days in county jail, pay restitution to the victim and stay away from the victim.

The judge then graciously terminated probation early on July 21, 2004.  About a year later, our client filed a petition for dismissal under Penal Code § 1203.4 (expungement), which the Court granted on January 21, 2005.  

Greg asked the client a few questions about the discussions he had with his attorney before entering his plea in 2001 and what the client understood as to the immigration consequences applying to him in particular.  
    
Greg then explained how Penal Code § 1473.7, effective January 1, 2017, was a new law that provides that “[a] person no longer imprisoned or restrained may prosecute a motion to vacate a conviction” when “[t]he conviction is legally invalid due to a prejudicial error damaging the moving party’s ability to meaningfully understand, defend against, or knowingly accept the actual or potential adverse immigration consequences of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere.”  Penal Code § 1473.7(a)(1).  

Greg explained that the “prejudicial error” for our client was a failure for the client to be properly advised of the immigration consequences for him personally.  He heard the judge state the immigration warnings, but he assumed they did not apply to him because he was a lawful permanent resident.  His attorney never told him they still applied to him or would apply if his permanent resident status expired.

Greg then prepared and filed the motion in the Norwalk Superior Court.  The motion laid out the facts of the underlying case, and more importantly, that the client was never told that the  immigration warnings applied to him.  The client believed such warnings did not apply to him because he was a permanent legal resident.

The motion also assured the judge that he or she could still act under Penal Code § 1473.7 even after 1203.4 relief (see Meyer v. Superior Court (1966) 247 Cal.App.2d 133, dealing with 17(b)(3) relief) and can grant a certificate of rehabilitation after an eligible sex offense is dismissed under 1203.4.

The judge in Norwalk granted the motion at a short hearing.  The prosecutor did not oppose the motion at all.  The client was quite happy.

For more information about Penal Code § 1473.7 motions to vacate a conviction, please click on the following articles:
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