Oakland Motions to Vacate a Criminal Conviction
A criminal conviction does not mean that your only option is to accept the punishment issued by the court. However, in certain situations, you may be eligible to petition an Oakland motions to vacate a criminal conviction. In short, this opportunity could arise if you have a legal basis to ask the court to throw out your conviction. This could be because the conviction was based on an uninformed guilty plea, or because the conviction was rendered illegal by changes in the law or new evidence that came to light after your trial concluded.
Contact a skilled expungement lawyer who could help protect your rights and develop a comprehensive legal plan of action. If retained, your attorney could help you understand your rights under California law and pursue motions to vacate that could help both your present situation and your future.
What is a Penal Code 1473.7 Motion to Vacate?
In its simplest terms, a motion to vacate is a formal request made by an individual who was already convicted by a court. This motion provides a legal reason for why this court should revisit the conviction and proposes a more equitable result.
California law provides certain reasons for why a defendant may file a motion to vacate. Specifically, California Penal Code §1473.7 states that a criminal defendant may file a motion to vacate a conviction when:
- The conviction is legally invalid due to a prejudicial error that has an impact on the defendant’s ability to meaningfully understand, defend against, or accept the potential effects of a guilty plea
- Newly discovered evidence comes to light that requires a vacation of the sentence as a matter of law or justice
As a result, a motion to vacate an Oakland criminal conviction could have one of two positive results. A successful motion to vacate a guilty plea could allow a defendant to withdraw their previous plea and continue their case with a not guilty plea. While this case may still result in a conviction, any consequences for the previous guilty finding would be terminated and the new conviction may be immigration safe. It is also possible that once vacated the matter could be dismissed altogether.
When a motion to vacate a conviction is based on the discovery of new evidence, the guilty finding may be totally dismissed. This typically occurs when the law changes in a way that makes a previously illicit activity no longer illegal, or if a witness named during a trial recants their testimony. It is also possible that the case may be dismissed in its entirety if there is insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction after the passage of time.
How to File a Motion to Vacate
Just like any other motion, an individual must file a motion to vacate according to the court’s rules on timing. CA Penal Code §1473.7 defines a motion as “timely” when the moving party is no longer imprisoned or restrained. This essentially means that a motion to vacate a criminal conviction in Oakland and throughout California can only be filed once a person completes their sentence.
However, a special provision applies to defendants who are facing deportation and have received a notice of removal proceedings. This same statute says that a non-citizen who is facing deportation because of their conviction can file a motion to vacate if they believe that they were not properly advised of the potential immigration consequences for a guilty plea. In any event, a dedicated attorney could help individuals determine if a motion to vacate is likely to succeed and when it is appropriate to file the motion in court.
A Motion to Vacate an Oakland Criminal Conviction Could Provide a New Start
A guilty finding in court does not mean that you no longer have rights. Even if you admit guilt in court, you still may be able to withdraw that admission or ask for a new hearing. However, a motion to vacate must be filed on time and under very specific circumstances.
A dedicated criminal lawyer could help you with this process and give you the best chance at standing up for your rights even after a conviction. This could result in a new trial or even a total dismissal of your charges. Contact an attorney today to discuss your options for Oakland motions to vacate a criminal conviction.