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A motion to vacate in a criminal case is a request made by the defendant asking the court to invalidate a previous conviction. Filing this motion allows them to challenge a court’s decision when there is a legal basis to do so.

Motions to vacate are an important part of ensuring the fairness and accuracy of the legal system. However, winning a motion to vacate can be challenging and it requires an adept understanding of post conviction laws.

The process involves presenting strong legal arguments and substantial evidence to persuade the court to overturn the prior imposition of the conviction. Due to their complexity, individuals often enlist the help of a criminal defense attorney with experience in post conviction relief.

Our post-conviction relief attorneys at The Nieves Law Firm have assisted many California residents in overturning their convictions. We understand the nuances of these cases and are here to help you seek justice.

If you believe you have grounds for a motion to vacate in Sacramento, contact us today for a consultation.

Motions to Vacate Vs. Criminal Appeals

A motion to vacate is a legal procedure typically used to challenge a conviction or sentence in a criminal case. It is filed with the trial court that originally handled the case. This motion is based on evidence that supports the position that errors occurred in the legal process, evidence that points to innocence, or compelling reasons exist that indicate the conviction should be set aside: like the defendant was a victim of human trafficking or other violent crimes during the time they were convicted of a nonviolent offense.

Once vacated, the underlying conviction can be sealed, dismissed, or resentenced depending on the relief available due to the type of vacatur.

A criminal appeal, on the other hand, is a legal process used to challenge a conviction or sentence by taking the case to a higher court, usually an appellate court. Appeals are based on legal errors made during the trial, such as incorrect jury instructions, improper admission of evidence, or mistakes in the application of the law.

The appellate court reviews the trial record and legal arguments to determine if errors occurred that warrant overturning the conviction or modifying the sentence. The outcome of a successful appeal may be a new trial, a reduced sentence, or even an acquittal.

While both motions to vacate and criminal appeals aim to challenge criminal convictions or sentences, they differ in their procedures and where they are filed.

Our Motion to Vacate Results in California

Our continued success in motion to vacate cases highlights our dedication to standing up for our clients.

Below is a summary of some of our notable case results in California:

  • Motion to Vacate (Immigration Purposes) — The client’s prior convictions related to marijuana possession and sale. Motion granted, vacating the legally invalid conviction. Client allowed to reenter the United States.
  • Motion to Vacate – PC 236.14 (Human Trafficking) — The client sought help vacating three prior convictions in Alameda County under Penal Code 236.14. The judge granted the motion, vacating the client’s convictions and sealing the associated records of arrest.
  • Writ of Error Coram Nobis (Immigration Purposes) —The client faced immigration consequences due to a previous drug-related conviction. The federal court the writ or error coram nobis enabling the client to stay with their family in the US and become a naturalized citizen.
  • Motion to Vacate (Immigration Purposes) — The client faced immigration consequences due to a prior drug conviction. The court granted the motion to vacate, and the client avoided deportation.
  • Motion to Vacate – PC 236.14 (Human Trafficking) — The Nieves Law Firm petitioned to vacate a prior conviction in Contra Costa County under PC 236.14. The court granted the motion to vacate filed by The Nieves Law Firm, the prior conviction was vacated and sealed
  • Motion to Vacate (Immigration Purposes) — The client was in ICE custody and facing deportation due to a prior conviction for a sex crime. The Nieves Law Firm was able to show that a legal error occurred during the time of the conviction. The motion to vacate was granted, and the client was appropriately resentenced and released from ICE custody.

We understand that no two legal cases are identical. Each one presents its unique challenges, complexities, and circumstances. However, what remains consistent is our unwavering commitment to diligently review and advocate for our clients’ interests.

If you or someone you know is facing legal challenges, we invite you to reach out to us for a personalized review of your case. Our team is here to provide guidance and support on your legal journey.

Motion to Vacate Resources in Sacramento

When seeking post-conviction relief, the best thing you can do is ask for help. Along with the help from an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can rely on these local resources.

Sacramento Sheriff’s Office Reentry Services

The Sacramento Sheriff’s Office Reentry Services offers support and resources to individuals reentering the community after incarceration. They provide assistance with employment and access to social services.

Sacramento County Public Law Library

The Sacramento County Public Law Library provides access to legal research materials, including statutes, case law, and legal guides. They offer assistance in legal research and accessing relevant legal documents.

Sacramento County Public Law Library
609 9th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Penal Code Section 1473.7

Penal Code Section 1473.7 contains the specific legal provisions relevant to motions to vacate in California related to the failure to properly advise on associated immigration consequences of a plea or conviction. Consultation with legal professionals is advisable to understand its application and implications.

Penal Code Section 1016.5

Penal Code Section 1016.5 addresses the Court’s duty to admonish a criminal defendant of the immigration consequences of their plea and the language that must be conveyed at the time of a plea. Our firm has successfully vacated convictions based on the Court’s failure to comply with this provision.

Penal Code Section 236.14 and Penal Code Section 236.15

Penal Code Section 236.14 provides relief to individuals who were convicted of nonviolent offenses while they were victims of human trafficking while Penal Code section 236.15 provides relief to those who were convicted of nonviolent offenses while victims of intimate partner violence or sexual violence. A proper showing must be made that there is a direct connection between the victimization and the conviction in order to secure relief. Consulting with experienced legal counsel can help with the requisite showing.

Beyond Motions to Vacate: Our Practice Areas

At the Nieves Law Firm, we offer strategic defense against a spectrum of criminal charges. Our commitment to safeguarding your rights and future extends beyond motions to vacate.

We’re here to provide guidance and representation in a variety of legal matters, including:

With our legal team by your side, you can trust that we’ll tirelessly work to build the strongest defense possible, no matter the nature of the charges. We are your one-stop resource for legal support in Sacramento.

Vacating Past Convictions With The Nieves Law Firm

A motion to vacate provides an avenue to challenge final judgments when there are legitimate reasons to request the court withdraw, overturn, or reconsider its prior decision. These motions are an important procedural safeguard for parties to seek relief from unjust or legally invalid convictions.

With proper grounds, following correct court procedures, meeting filing deadlines, and presenting convincing legal arguments, you have the opportunity through motions to vacate to right the wrongs of an unfavorable judgment.

Fight back — contact the Nieves Law Firm today for a consultation.

Top-Rated Criminal Defense Lawyers Serving the Bay Area

The Nieves Law Firm is dedicated to providing aggressive criminal defense representation to working professionals who have found themselves in trouble with the law. We show up to win, and we’re not afraid to fight aggressively to accomplish our client’s goals.

We understand that being accused of a crime can be a scary and confusing experience. That’s why we take the stress off our clients by handling the full scope of their legal situation from the initial consultation to the final outcome. Our bilingual attorneys and staff are here to ensure that our clients feel heard and understood every step of the way.

As one of the largest criminal defense teams in Oakland and the Greater Bay Area, we have the resources and experience to handle even the most complex cases. Our experienced team examines various aspects of your case and, perhaps most importantly, we genuinely care about our clients and their future. We take the time to learn about their goals and priorities so that we can achieve an outcome that allows them to move past their mistakes and focus on the future they want. When you work with us, you become part of our team.

Our Team

Our skilled criminal defense attorneys have experience handling a wide range of criminal cases. With a deep understanding of the legal system and a track record of successful cases, our lawyers are committed to achieving the best possible outcome in your case.

Meet Our Team

Our Criminal Defense Attorneys: How to Take Back Control of Your Life, And Your Future.

When facing a criminal charge, having dedicated and experienced attorneys on your side is critical. At The Nieves Law Firm, we understand the gravity of your situation, and our criminal defense attorneys provide unwavering support and legal guidance.

From the moment you reach out to us, we prioritize your well-being and legal interests. Our criminal lawyers are with you every step of the way, from arrest to hearings and beyond, to ensure that your rights are protected. Whether you’re facing charges related to DUI, drug offenses, assault, sex crimes or any other allegation, we have the knowledge and courtroom experience to fight vigorously on your behalf.

We believe in the power of collaboration and will actively involve you in the decision-making process, ensuring you are well-informed and empowered to make the best choices for your defense. Our goal is not only to navigate the legal complexities but also to provide you with the peace of mind and reassurance you deserve during this challenging time.

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Our Criminal Defense Practice Areas


What should be included in a motion to vacate?

A well-prepared Motion to Vacate typically includes a clear statement of the legal grounds for the motion, supporting analysis and legal arguments, declarations, exhibits, and a request for specific relief, such as a new trial or the dismissal of charges.

How long does the process take?

The timeline for a Motion to Vacate can vary widely depending on the complexity of the case, court backlog, the availability of records, and other factors. It’s essential to consult with your attorney for a realistic estimate.

What happens after filing a motion to vacate in Sacramento?

The court will review the motion and may hold a hearing to consider the arguments and evidence presented. The judge will then make a decision on whether to grant or deny the motion.

What are the potential outcomes of a motion to vacate?

If the motion is granted, the conviction or sentence may be set aside, sealed, dismissed, resentenced, or newly litigated. If denied, the original conviction and sentence remain in place.

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