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Supreme Court Reverses Denial of Motion to Vacate

People v. Espinoza Docket: S269647, Opinion Date: January 26, 2023. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeal affirming the decision of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to vacate his conviction, holding that holding that the court of appeals erred in ruling that Defendant failed adequately to corroborate his claim that immigration consequences were a paramount concern and thus that Defendant could not demonstrate prejudice within the meaning of Cal. Penal Code 1473.7. In 2004, Defendant, a native of Mexico, accepted a plea bargain and served one year in jail. In 2015, Defendant was detained by federal immigration authorities after a return flight to the United States, and his permanent residence card was seized. In his third motion to vacate his conviction, Defendant argued that he had not been aware of the immigration consequences of his plea and that, had he been aware, he would have sought a plea with lesser consequences or gone to trial. The trial court denied the motion without holding an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under the totality of the circumstances, there was a reasonable probability that Defendant would have rejected the plea had he understood its immigration consequences.

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