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Man Finds Criminal Deportation Relief

California v. Rodriguez Court: California Courts of Appeal, Docket: D076917 (Fourth Appellate District), Opinion Date: February 16, 2021. In 2007, Juan Rodriguez, a non-citizen, entered a plea agreement in San Diego County that avoided any adverse immigration consequences. After the plea was entered, but before sentencing, Rodriguez was arrested and jailed for another crime in Riverside County. As a result of that arrest, Rodriguez did not appear at the scheduled sentencing hearing. He later agreed to be sentenced in absentia, and the court imposed a sentence subjecting Rodriguez to deportation. Deportation proceedings were initiated after Rodriguez’s release from custody and remain ongoing. In 2019, after amendments to Penal Code section 1473.7, Rodriguez moved to vacate his conviction on the grounds that he had not been sufficiently advised of the immigration consequences he faced. After an evidentiary hearing, the court denied the motion. Rodriguez challenged that decision, asserting the court erred by finding he meaningfully understood he would become deportable as a result of the plea. The Court of Appeal concluded the evidence supported Rodriguez’s motion. The Court thus reversed and remanded with directions to the trial court to grant Rodriguez’s motion to vacate the conviction.

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