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Trial Court Errs in Denying Motion to Vacate

People v. Manzanilla Docket: B313557 (Second Appellate District), Opinion Date: July 6, 2022. In 2014, Defendant was convicted of one count of injuring a cohabitant resulting in a traumatic condition under Penal Code section 273.5 after he entered a guilty plea to the offense. Shortly after his conviction, Defendant sought to revoke his plea on the ground that he wanted to secure an "immigration safe" plea, as he was fearful that a felony conviction would impact his status as a lawful permanent resident. The court denied Defendant's request. Subsequently, Defendant filed another motion to vacate under Penal Code section 1473.7, claiming that he would not have taken the plea had he known about the immigration consequences. Despite the prosecution agreeing to offer Defendant a misdemeanor in lieu of a felony, the court rejected Defendant's request. Defendant appealed. The Second Appellate District reversed. Section 1473.7 permits a court to grant a motion to vacate based on prejudicial error that doesn't necessarily rise to the level of ineffective assistance of counsel. The court held that Defendant demonstrated prejudicial error under Penal Code 1473.7 based on 1.) counsel's failure to advise him of the immigration consequences of his plea, 2.) counsel's failure to defend against deportation, and 3.) Defendant's subjective understanding of the consequences of his plea. Thus, the lower court erred in denying Defendant's motion to vacate.

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