Post-Conviction Relief! Penal Code section 664/487 Crime Involving Moral Turpitude Conviction Vacated and Dismissed!

Recently, in Los Angeles County at the West Covina Courthouse our office successfully litigated a Penal Code § 1473.7 motion arguing that our client failed to meaningfully understand the immigration consequences that would result from pleading to two crimes involving moral turpitude: Penal Code section 664/487 and Penal Code section 72.

Our client hired our office to attempt to seek post-conviction relief on her behalf. Our client had pled no contest in 2014 to violating Penal Code section 664/487 and Penal Code section 72, felonies. Our client was able to reduce them to misdemeanors after successfully completing her sentence in this matter but these convictions to crimes involving moral turpitude were causing her adverse immigration consequences and were barring her from obtaining her lawful permanent resident status.

Our office filed a motion pursuant to Penal Code section 1473.7 arguing that the convictions for violating Penal Code section 664/487(a) and Penal Code section 72 subjected our client to deportation pursuant to 8 U.S.C. section 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii) as an alien who is convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude and exclusion from the United States pursuant to 8 U.S.C. section 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(I), as a matter of law. We further argued that the federal statutes identifying Penal Code section 664/487(a) and Penal Code section 72 as crimes involving moral turpitude are succinct, clear, and explicit.

Attached to our motion, we submitted documentation from our client’s immigration attorney showing that both offenses are considered crimes involving moral turpitude and our client can only have one conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude. The documentation showed that our client would be permitted to lawfully adjust her immigration status if she has one conviction involving moral turpitude, but not two. Thus, we argued that had our client known about the direct immigration consequences that would result from her two count plea agreement, she could have sought to negotiate a plea to one count, instead of two, or a plea to Penal Code section 459 for one of the counts in exchange for an enhanced penalty such as additional tree farm, Cal Trans or community service and thereby completely avoided the immigration consequences she currently faces.

The prosecution notified our office that they intended to oppose our motion. Thus, we requested the original police reports and other discovery from the underlying offense to investigate and support our argument that our client should have pled to another immigration neutral offense in lieu of one of the crimes involving moral turpitude. After review of this documentation, we were in a better position to argue that at the time of our client’s plea in 2014 the prosecution would have likely allowed our client to plead to an alternative charge in lieu of one of the crimes involving moral turpitude she originally pled to.

At the final hearing on the motion, we were able to vacate the plea to one of the crimes involving moral turpitude (Penal Code section 664/487). With this result, our client now longer has two convictions for crimes involving moral turpitude and will now be able to move forward with obtaining her lawful permanent resident status!

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