Post-Conviction Relief Obtained for Client with Bench Warrant on a Felony Health and Safety Code § 11350(a), “Possession of a Controlled Substance” Offense! Bench Warrant Recalled, Felony Reduced to a Misdemeanor, Charged Vacated, and Completely Dismissed!

An out-of-state client recently retained our office to assist him with his 2003 Health and Safety Code section 11350(a), “Possession of a Controlled Substance,” conviction. Our client wanted our office to represent him on the matter without him having to travel to California to appear in court.

Upon receiving the docket and court file for this matter, we determined that our client was originally placed on “Deferred Entry of Judgment” (“DEJ”). Unfortunately, our client failed to appear for a DEJ progress report and DEJ was terminated by the court. On this same date, the court resumed criminal proceedings and convicted our client of the controlled substance offense and issued a bench warrant against him for his non-appearance.

Given the charge, we began our representation by filing a petition to reduce the offense to a misdemeanor pursuant to Penal Code section 1170.18 (“Proposition 47"), which did not require the personal presence of our client at court. The court granted our request for the reduction and the offense was re-designated as a misdemeanor.

Now that the offense was deemed a misdemeanor, we were then able to appear on our client’s behalf on all further proceedings pursuant to Penal Code section 977. The court then granted our request to recall the bench warrant.

We then filed a motion to vacate the conviction pursuant to Penal Code section 1473.7. In our motion we argued that our client failed to meaningfully defend against the immigration consequences of his conviction because he was not aware that he could seek to negotiate to immigration neutral plea dispositions, such as a Penal Code section 32 offense.

At the hearing the prosecution submitted on our motion and the court granted the motion to vacate the controlled substance conviction. The prosecution then moved to dismiss the underlying charge pursuant to Penal Code section 1385, “In the Interests of Justice.”

This is a great result that our office was able to obtain for our client without him ever having to appear in court, despite the bench warrant.

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