Immigration – Post-Conviction Relief: Penal Code 1473.7 Erases Old Convictions

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Since January 1, 2017, a new California law is helping people erase the catastrophic consequences (immigration or otherwise) that can attach to even very old convictions.

The law will permits people no longer in criminal custody to file a motion to vacate a conviction or sentence based on either one of two claims: (1) a prejudicial error damaging the defendant’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, or (2) newly discovered evidence of actual innocence.

This new law closes an enormous loophole in California law.  People being deported for old convictions were unable to erase them, even if their lawyer didn’t tell them about the immigration consequences of the plea.  Once an individual is off probation, there was no way to attack these convictions, at all.  State assembly member Lorena Gonzalez championed this new law to provide help to people who were stuck in this situation.

Penal Code §1473.7(a)(1) states the general basis on which a motion to vacate can be made:

The conviction or sentence 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.

If you have an old conviction that is causing you problems, immigration or otherwise, please give me a call!