Penal Code section 273.5(a) - Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Offense Vacated Per Penal Code section 1473.7 and Renegotiated to Immigration Neutral Plea!

In 2001, our client entered a plea to a violation of Penal Code section 273.5(a), “Domestic Violence.” Pursuant to federal immigration law, for non-citizen defendants, a conviction to this charge causes mandatory and permanent deportation, exclusion from admission to the United States, and denial of naturalization. Our client is a non-citizen and, after recently consulting with immigration counsel, he discovered that his domestic violence conviction would cause him serious, permanent, and dire federal immigration consequences. Our client hired our office to determine whether post-conviction relief may be available to him.

After requesting the court file, our office received correspondence from the Superior Court that the file could not be located. However, according to the Docket for the matter, at the time of our client’s plea he was purportedly advised that if he was not a citizen, the offense for which he was charged “may” have immigration consequences. After speaking to our client about the circumstances of his plea, we filed a motion pursuant to Penal Code section 1473.7 arguing that he failed to meaningfully understand the immigration consequences of his plea given that he was not advised accurately regarding the immigration consequences that would result from his plea. We argued that our client should have been advised that his plea to an offense involving domestic violence would result in his mandatory deportation and permanent inadmissibility to the United States.

After filing the motion and prior to our hearing for this motion, a new appellate opinion in People v. Ruiz (2020) 49 Cal. App. 5th 1061 was issued by the appellate court and was very favorable to our position and the arguments that we made in our underlying motion. Thus, we filed a supplement to our motion analyzing the new Opinion in relation to our client.

At the hearing on the motion, the district attorney indicated that they were going to oppose our motion. Attorney Steve Escovar asked for an indicated from the court, and the court stated it was inclined to grant our motion given the appellate case precedent. The district attorney then agreed not to oppose the motion to vacate the plea and allowed our client to re-plea to a Penal Code section 243(e)(1) offense - an immigration neutral charge for our client.

This is an outstanding result for our client!

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